Copyright 2015; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo by Frank Stallworth.
PLEASANTVILLE, N.Y. - - Tyraire Ponzo-Meek hit a three-pointer with 1:19 remaining and the Wilmington University men's basketball team held on down the stretch to outlast Pace, 62-61, on Wednesday night at the Goldstein Fitness Center.
The Wildcats (2-1) needed to withstand three offensive rebounds and a missed free throw, which would have extended the lead in the final minute while Pace (1-2) had a chance to win the game with a final shot at the buzzer.
The game was back and forth in the first half, with the Wildcats and Setters changing leads 10 times in the opening period. Brian Adkins hit a three pointer with 14:51 left to give the Wildcats an 11-10 lead before a layup from Omari Dill-Pettiford put the Wildcats ahead 15-12 with 11:43 left.
Free throws from Adkins and a pair from Drew Johnson II gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 18-14, with 7:49 before the break. The Setters responded to take as large as a four-point lead of their own before the halftime break. Ponzo-Meek hit a technical foul shot before sinking a three-pointer with 2:04 left in the half to regain the lead for the Wildcats, 27-26. Johnson put the Wildcats on top heading into the break with a three-pointer of his own with just five seconds left, 31-29.
The second half started just as tightly as the first half, but the Setters slightly edged the Wildcats, 13-9, to give the home team its largest lead of the game, 44-38, with 13:04 remaining in regulation.
Ponzo-Meek responded with a three-pointer to cut the deficit in half before following up with a steal and a fast break layup, sparking a 5-0 run all on his own. But the Setters were able to keep the Wildcats at arms reach, with the Wildcats only getting as close as two points as late as 5:33 late in the match.
Trailing 53-51, Joseph Richards hit a three-point from Johnson to give the Wildcats a one-point lead, and putting the game on a seesaw. The Setters again went up by a pair before Adkins sank a three-pointer with 3:40 to play to regain a one-point lead at 57-56.
A defensive rebound and a push ahead allowed Adkins to break free of the crown and slam one home to put the visitors ahead 59-56 with 3:10 to play. But the Setters came back once again, tying the game on their next possession before taking a 61-59 lead with 1:35 left.
That set up Ponzo-Meek's eventual game-winner with 1:19 to play, dialing it up from deep once more with a three-pointer for what would be the final points of the game.
The Setters had a three-pointer that was off the mark with 55 seconds left before getting an offensive rebound. A missed layup with 50 seconds left was again corralled by Pace before the Setters missed another three-pointer with 22 seconds left. But the Wildcats couldn't gather the rebound once again, giving Pace another chance. This time, Paul Medlin was able to grab the defensive rebound, but Ponzo-Meek was unable to make the Setters pay, missing the front end from the foul line with 10 seconds on the clock.
After a timeout, the Setters' Bryan Rivers missed the game-winning jumper with one second to play, giving the Wildcats the one-point victory.
Adkins led all scorers with 20 points on the night, hitting 4-of-7 from deep and 7-of-16 from the floor. Ponzo-Meek added 14 points while hitting 3-of-7 from three-point territory. Ponzo-Meek also led the Wildcats with nine rebounds and six assists while Medlin grabbed seven boards.
The win gives the Wildcats its best start since the 2011-12 season when the team started 4-1. They will look to add to their win total when they return to action on Saturday at Mercy College. Opening tip is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.