Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of Tyaire Ponzo-Meek against Concordia
ORANGEBURG, N.Y. - - The Wilmington University men's basketball team held off Dominican down the stretch to claim a 68-66 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference cross divisional victory on Saturday afternoon at the Hennessy Center.
The Wildcats (7-15, 2-11 CACC) snapped a three-game losing streak by holding off the Chargers (7-14, 6-6 CACC) down the stretch. Leading be as many as eight points with 8:33 to play, the Wildcats needed a last second three-pointer by the Chargers to rim out to claims their second straight contest on Coach Baxter Court.
The last time the Wildcats were visiting Dominican was in last year's CACC Tournament Quarterfinal round and the Wildcats used a last second jumper to take a two-point road victory. This afternoon the Wildcats were on the defensive side of the ball and watched as a last second three-pointer failed to once again give the visitors the two-point victory.
The Wildcats weren't always on the rights side of the score on Saturday, as they needed to overcome a late first half 12-point deficit to lead 35-34 at the halftime break.
Trailing 29-17 with 5:50 left in the first half, the Wildcats stormed back with a 18-5 run over the remainder of the half, including a 14-2 stretch in the final 2:55. Omari Dill Pettiford put in a layup to cut the deficit to seven points before Brian Adkins turned a Dominican turnover into another layup 15 seconds later to bring the Wildcats to within 32-27. Dill-Pettiford and Drew Johnson II then hit back-to-back three-pointers before Tyaire Ponzo-Meek concluded the half with a pair from the foul line, taking the lead at the half for the first time since the game was 14-13.
The teams went back and forth to begin the second half, as the game was tied three times and the lead changed hands seven times through the first 7:27 of the half. The Wildcats made their move as the game was tied, 49-49.
Paul Medlin started an 8-0 run with a layup with 11:51 to play followed by a jumper from Adkins and another bucket from Medlin. Medlin then hit a pair from the foul line to give the Wildcats a 57-49 lead with 8:33 left in regulation.
The lead didn't last long, however, as the Chargers climbed back with an 11-2 run of their own, putting in a layup to regain the lead, 60-59, with 5:07 showing on the clock.
Down 62-61, the Wildcats' Johnson put in a layup before Ponzo-Meek hit one of his three three-pointers of the afternoon to gain a 66-62 lead with 2:21 left. Sam Sanders hit a pair from the charity stripe with 34 to play, cushioning the lead to 68-64 for the Wildcats.
With a chance to put the game away, Dill-Pettiford missed the front end of the one-and-one , giving the Chargers a final look at the basket. The home team decided on going for the three-pointer and win, but Joe Clinton's shot was off the mark.
Ponzo-Meek finished with a game-high 21 points, shooting 3-for-5 from deep. He also dished out a team high six assists and grabbed four boards. Adkins also scored in double figures for the starters, scoring 11 points while adding six rebounds. Dill-Pettiford came off the bench and scored 15 points, shooting 6-of-12 from the floor including a perfect 3-for-3 from three-point land. Sanders led the team with eight rebounds.
The Wildcats shot 44.1 percent from the floor, including 44.4 percent (8-for-18) from three-point territory. The Chargers only shot 39.1 percent from the floor and 22.2 percent (4-of-18) from downtown.
Following a two-game road trip, the Wildcats return home on Wednesday night as they host USciences in another CACC contest. The men will tip-off at approximately 8:00 p.m. at the WU Athletics Complex.