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NEWARK, Del. - - The pregame numbers pointed towards a shootout and that's just what the Wilmington University men's basketball team and Holy Family gave the crowd as the Wildcats made the final stop to win, 92-90, in Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division action at the WU Athletics Complex on Tuesday night.
The game featured four of the CACC's top five scorers, but it was the Wildcats' (17-7, 12-3 CACC) duo of Tyaire Ponzo-Meek and Nick Richards that out-dueled the Tigers' (10-15, 8-8 CACC) stars of Randy Bell and Dyllon Hudson-Emory. It was a last second stance by the Wildcats that gave the home team the win, as Bell's well defended three-pointer with two seconds left was well short.
With the win, the Wildcats clinched one of the four spots from the South Division for the CACC Tournament, with the seeding yet to be determined. Goldey-Beacom was off tonight and remain in first with a 13-2 record while the Wildcats and Philadelphia are deadlocked at 12-3 with four conference games left. USciences and Holy are tied for the fourth with 8-8 records with three games left. The Wildcats have games against Goldey-Beacom and Philadelphia remaining.
The Wildcats scored the first eight points of the game and took their first double-digit lead of the game on a massive put-back slam by Richards with 9:02 left in the first half, 21-10. The lead continued to grow as the half neared, as Brian Adkins put the home team ahead, 35-21, with a jumper with 4:43 showing on the board. The Tigers closed the gap to as few as six points, but Tajee Almon started a 9-0 run with a jumper in the final minute to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 46-31. Bell hit a three-pointer at the buzzer to bring the Tigers to within 46-34 at the break.
The Tigers came out of the locker room and started the second half on a 14-6 spurt to close the gap to as few as four points, 52-48, in the first four minutes. A Hudson-Emory three-point a minute later closed the gap to a single point, 54-53, with 15:00 left in regulation.
Holy Family was still hanging around and only trailing 73-70 before the Wildcats rattled off seven straight points to open the margin back out to 80-70 with 5:59 to play. Miles Gillette laid one home and Ponzo-Meek converted an old fashioned three-point lead and the Wildcats found themselves up 89-74 with 5:20 on the scoreboard.
But the Tigers didn't go away so easily.
Still down 91-79, the Tigers scored the game's next 11 points, getting as close as 91-90 with 1:17 to play with a pair of free throws. The Tigers had two shots at the lead but both shots bounced out and Ponzo-Meek pulled down the rebound. Masner Beauplan could only hit one of two from the foul, but the Wildcats locked down Bell and he had to take a tough and long three-pointer with the clock winding down. He missed everything and Ponzo-Meek secured the rebound for the win.
Ponzo-Meek came into the game as the league's third leading scorer and added 23 points, grabbing six rebounds while also dishing out six assists. Richards came into the as the league's fifth best scorer and put in 20 points on 7-of-9 shooting, securing a double-double with a game-high 14 rebounds while adding five assists. Dill-Pettiford added 15 points while Beauplan chipped in with 14 points.
Hudson-Emory came into the game as the league's leading scored and was held under his average with 15 points. Bell came into the game as the league's second leading scorer and put in more than his average, scoring a game-high 26 points on 14-of-25 shooting, including 8-of-18 from deep.
After winning all three games of their three-game home stand, the Wildcats head to Post on Saturday for a CACC cross-divisional contest. The men will start with an approximate tip-off of 3:00 p.m.