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Second Half Shooting Carries Wilmington Men’s Basketball to 85-68 CACC Victory over Caldwell

Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Taj Almon contributing to his double-double, by Frank Stallworth.
Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Taj Almon contributing to his double-double, by Frank Stallworth.

NEWARK, Del. - - A strong second half carried the Wilmington University men's basketball team to an 85-68 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory over Caldwell on Saturday afternoon at the WU Athletics Complex.

In a matchup of two of the top scoring teams in the conference, the Wildcats (12-6, 7-2 CACC) were the ones that were able to put up 51 points in the second half, keeping the Cougars (10-7, 5-4 CACC) to 31.9 percent shooting for the game and 10 points fewer than their season's average. The Wildcats outpaced the Cougars, 51-35, in the second half.

With the win, the Wildcats surpass the 2014-15 team's mark of 11 wins in a season during the NCAA era, setting a new program record with 10 games left in the regular season.

Four Wildcats reached double figures on Saturday afternoon, led by fifth year senior Tajee Almon's first double-double of the season. He scored 16 points and added a game-high 15 rebounds while adding three blocked shots. Tyaire Ponzo-Meek scored a game-high 23 points, shooting 10-of-13 from the floor, including 6-of-6 in the first half. Ponzo-Meek nearly had a triple-double, grabbing eight rebounds while adding seven assists as well.

Omari Dill-Pettiford poured in 15 points while hitting four three-pointers and Nick Richards put in 10 points with four assists and three steals.

Out of the halftime break, the Cougars tied the game at 39-39 with three straight buckets, but Drew Johnson answered with a three-pointer of his own to regain the lead for the Wildcats. Almon put in back-to-back buckets before Ponzo-Meek hit one of his two three-pointers to put the home team on top, 49-41, with 13:49 to play.

Back-to-back Dill-Pettiford three-pointers gave the Wildcats a 61-47 lead with nine minutes left before Almon gave the Wildcats their first 15-point lead with another layup, 65-50. Caldwell answered with three three-pointers to close to within eight points, but Dill-Pettiford stopped any threat of a comeback with a three of his own in front of his own bench, 70-59, with 6:06 showing on the clock. A Nick Richards steal and dunk cemented the victory for the Wildcats with 4:19 to play.

The Wildcats shot 46.9 percent from the floor for the game, hitting 9-of-21 from beyond the three-point arc. They also only missed three shots from the foul line, going 16-of-19 for the game.

The Wildcats are in action again on Tuesday at the WU Athletics Complex, looking for redemption against USciences in a South Divisional matchup. The Devils gave the Wildcats one of their two CACC losses, 91-80, on December 6. The men cap the CACC doubleheader with an opening tip scheduled for 8:00 p.m. on Tuesday night.