Copyright 2015; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Ta'Vaune Griffin bringing the Wildcats to within two points on a dunk in the second half by Frank Stallworth.
NEWARK, Del. - - A slow start doomed the Wilmington University men's basketball team as Philadelphia was able to hold off a second half comeback, 59-48, in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference battle on Tuesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
In a rematch of the 2014-15 CACC Tournament Championship game, the Wildcats (4-6, 0-3) came out slow and spotted the Rams (8-1, 3-1 CACC) the first 10 points of the game. The Wildcats were held to five points in the first 10 minutes of the first half and had the deficit balloon to as many as 16 points in the first half before settling on a 31-17 disadvantage going into the locker room.
The second half was a completely different story for the Wildcats, as they came out and shot 41.9 percent from the floor and made three three-pointers to get back into the contest.
A quick 5-0 spurt on a three pointer by Briand Adkins and a jumper from Tyaire Ponzo-Meek brought the Wildcats to within 10 before another Adkins jumper had the Wildcats to single digits, 36-28, with 15:05 left in regulation. Ta'Vaune Griffin put back an offensive rebound and then the Wildcats hit back-to-back three-pointers to close the gap to 39-36 with 11:41 showing on the clock.
The run continued for the home team, as they used the momentum of the crowd and a thunderous dunk by Griffin to bring the score to 43-40. The defensive came up with another steal at the other end of the floor and Omari Dill-Pettiford went up and under on the reverse layup to bring the Wildcats to within 43-42, the closest score of the contest.
Following a Wilmington timeout, the Wildcats the earned a stop on the defensive end but Ponzo-Meek's off-balance shot to take the lead wouldn't fall and the Rams took advantage. The Rams picked up a big offensive rebound on the ensuing possession and the second-chance jumper started an 11-0 run, giving the visitors a 54-42 lead with 3:52 left and taking the air out of the building.
The Wildcats had a hard time getting the ball to the rim, especially in the first half as the Rams collected nine blocked shots, seven of which came from big-man Peter Alexis. Six of his seven blocked shots came in the first half, sparking the early 10-0 run to start the game. The Rams also benefited on 11 offensive rebounds, converting them into 17 second-chance points.
Ponzo-Meek led the Wildcats with 18 points, but shot just 8-of-22 from the floor, including just 2-of-7 from three-point territory. Adkins finished with 11 points while Griffin added seven points and a team high nine rebounds, five of which came on the offensive glass.
The Wildcats have eight days until their next contest, as they will work to snap their five-game losing streak next Wednesday. The Wildcats will host Chestnut Hill in another CACC South Division matchup next Wednesday as part of a basketball doubleheader. The men are the nightcap and are expected to start at approximately 8:00 p.m. at the WU Athletics Complex.