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Ponzo-Meek Leads Second Half Charge as Wilmington Men’s Basketball Comes Back to Defeat Mercy, 85-79, on the Road

Ponzo-Meek Leads Second Half Charge as Wilmington Men’s Basketball Comes Back to Defeat Mercy, 85-79, on the Road

Copyright 2015; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of Tyaire Ponzo-Meek

DOBBS FERRY, N.Y. - - A second half turnaround allowed the Wilmington University men's basketball team to come back and defeat Mercy, 85-79, on the road in nonconference action on Saturday afternoon.

The comeback started late in the first half as the Wildcats (3-1) found themselves down by as many as 10 points in the opening stanza. But the Wildcats were able to cut the Maverick (1-2) lead to a single point at the half, and then continue with the momentum into to the second half for the victory.

Junior Tyaire Ponzo-Meek paced the Wilmington comeback with 21 second half points, shooting 7-for-10 from the floor and adding 7-of-10 from the foul line in the second half alone. The only shots Ponzo-Meek missed in the second half were from here-point territory.

The Wildcats were able to get back into the game late in the first half by using the three-point shot, getting back-to-back from deep from Drew Johnson II and Joseph Richards to cut a 28-18 deficit to 28-24 with 6:27 to play before the break. Brian Adkins hit another three-point to cut the deficit to 32-27 with 4:29 to play, before following it up with a steal and a fast break dunk for a quick 5-0 run. Five straight free throws actually gave the Wildcats a 37-34 lead with 1:42 to play but Mercy responded with a pair of layups to end the half, going into the locker rooms with a 38-37 lead.

The Mavericks started the second half with a Tyseem Lyles jumper but then the Wildcats took over the game, going on a 10-2 run, capped by back-to-back buckets from Ponzo-Meek to lead 47-42 with 16:34 left in regulation.

Mercy hit a three-pointer to tie the game at 49-49, but Richards answered right back with a three of his own, and the Wildcats never gave up the lead again. The three-pointer sparked a 12-1 spurt, capped by a Adkins three-point with 11:29 to play to give the visitors a 61-50 lead. Back-to-back layups by Ponzo-Meek and Ta'Vaune Griffin gave the Wildcats their largest lead, 65-53, with just over half of the second stanza to play.

The Mavericks battled to within 70-66 with a Lyles' three-pointer, but Ponzo-Meek found Johnson II in the corner for a three-pointer with 4:00 minute to play to thwart the Mavericks' momentum.

Mercy was able to battle back again, getting as close as 76-72, but the defense bulked up and Ponzo-Meek hit four straight free throws before Griffin laid one home to put the Wildcats back up by 10 at 82-72, before settling on the final score of 85-79.

Four of the five Wildcat starters scored in double figures, led by Ponzo-Meek's game high 25 points. He also added six rebound, six assists, and two steals. Adkins finished with 16 points, hitting 3-of-5 from deep. Johnson II also hit three three-pointers, finishing with 12 points. Griffin shot 6-of-8 from the field and finished with a double-double for the Wildcats, scoring 14 points and grabbing a game high 10 rebounds. Paul Medlin hit 3-of-4 from the field, scored seven points, grabbed five rebounds, and picked up four blocks before fouling out.

The Wildcats shot 30-of-56 (53.6 percent) from the field for the game, including 9-of-20 from three-point territory.

The Wildcats have one more road game before playing their first game at the WU Athletics Complex next weekend. The Wildcats will head to Bloomsburg on Tuesday for a 7:00 p.m. trip.