Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Tyaire Ponzo-Meek after recording his 1,000th career points in the second half tonight, taken by Frank Stallworth.
NEWARK, Del. - - Wilmington men's basketball junior guard Tyaire Ponzo-Meek became the fourth player in the program's NCAA era to reach 1,000-career points but the Wildcats couldn't keep Georgian Court out of the paint in a 75-70 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division loss on Wednesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Wildcats (6-13, 1-9 CACC) were out rebounded, 51-36, and outscored in the paint, 36-24, in the loss, but had a chance by hitting 10 three-pointers and only committing six turnovers in the game.
The Lions (3-14, 2-8 CACC) also held the advantage from the free throw line, hitting 20-of-26 while the Wildcats only shot 12-of-23 from the charity stripe for the game.
Leading 15-12 in the first half, the Wildcats used a three-pointer from Omari Dill-Pettiford and a layup from Ponzo-Meek on back-to-back possessions to open a 20-12 lead. Sam Sanders then hit another three-pointer to give the home team its largest lead of the game, 23-12 with 9:18 left in the first half.
The Lions battled back to tie the game at 27-27, but Ponzo-Meek made a tough, twisting layup at the halftime buzzer to give the Wildcats a 29-27 lead heading into the locker room.
With 11 points at the break, Ponzo-Meek needed only two points in the second half to reach the 1,000-point plateau.
Brian Adkins kept the Wildcats in front early in the second half with a mini 5-0 run of his run, converting a layup before hitting a three-pointer to put Wilmington up, 34-29.
The Lions cut the deficit to 34-32 before Ponzo-Meek was sent to the line. After missing his first, the guard hit the second to bring the counter to 999 career points. Moments later, the junior hit a three-pointer to break the plateau, and give the Wildcats a 39-34 lead with 15:13 remaining in regulation.
David Hartman hit a pair from the line to keep the home team up seven, but the Lions started to make their comeback. Georgian Court's Keith Hughes laid one in before Michael Pierre nailed a three-pointer to put the visitors ahead, 44-42, with 10:56 left in the game. Alsmith Saintilus hit another three-pointer for the Lions, putting them up 47-42.
Ponzo-Meek put in a layup with 4:44 to play to bring the Wildcats to within four points, 55-51, but that would be as close as the Wildcats could get the rest of the way. The guard also hit back-to-back three-pointers sandwiched around a Lions' layup, but the Wildcats were still down 62-58 with 2:31 showing on the scoreboard.
Sanders hit a three-point from the left corner to get the Wildcats to within 69-65 with 50 seconds left, and had another opportunity from deeper in the corner moments later after coming up with a steal. But his second three-pointer was off the mark and the Lions were able to hang on.
Ponzo-Meek finished with a team high 30 points but needed 30 shots to get there, making 11 from the field. He also grabbed a team high 12 rebounds while adding three assists and five steals. Sanders came off the bench to pour in 11 points, hitting a pair of three-pointers. Adkins scored nine points while adding eight rebounds and two steals in the game.
The Wildcats have little time to dwell on the loss, as they return to action on Friday afternoon. Originally scheduled for Saturday afternoon, the Wildcats' game against Concordia has been moved up a day to beat the incoming weather this weekend. The Wildcats and Clippers will battle at 5:00 p.m. on Friday at the WU Athletics Complex.