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Second Half Shooting Saves Slow First Half As Wilmington Men’s Basketball Downs Chestnut Hill, 70-63, on Senior Night

Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of the team against Georgian Court, taken by Frank Stallworth.
Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of the team against Georgian Court, taken by Frank Stallworth.

Video recap at bottom of page.

NEWARK, Del. - - The second half shooting of the Wilmington University men's basketball team spurred the Wildcats to a much needed 70-63 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory over Chestnut Hill on Senior Night on Wednesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.

The win, coupled with a Goldey-Beacom loss to USciences, puts both teams at 13-4 in the South Division and in a tie for second place. The Wildcats are 18-8 overall while the Lightning fall to 19-5 overall. The two teams meet for the second time this season on Saturday night at the Joseph West Jones Center in Wilmington. The Wildcats took the first meeting this season.

On Wednesday, the Wildcats got off to a slow start in the first half, maybe due to the standing room only crowd on hand to witness the Senior Night ceremonies of four Wildcats during pregame. The Wildcats only shot 8-for-34 (23.5 percent) from the floor in the first half, including just 3-of-10 from beyond the three-point arc. Their saving grace was hitting 9-of-11 from the foul line. All that being said, the Wildcats were a three-pointer at the buzzer rimming out from being tied at the half, going into the break trailing, 31-28.

The second half started with a bang for the Wildcats, as senior Tajee Almon came up with a big block on the first defensive opportunity, leading to a game-tying three-pointer by fellow senior Brian Adkins at the other end.

The Griffins were able to harness the fast start for the Wildcats and took a 40-35 lead with 15:47 showing on the clock. That's when Omari Dill-Pettiford started a 7-0 run with a layup before senior Drew Johnson II hit a three-pointer and senior Tyaire Ponzo-Meek finished off a Nick Richards pick for the Wildcats' first lead of the second half with 13:58 to paly.

Another defensive steal led to an old fashioned three-point play for Ponzo-Meek as he was starting to heat up in the second half after shooting 0-for-7 with only two points in the first half. His free-throw gave the Wildcats the a 47-42 lead with 10:56 left on the clock. The Wildcats wouldn't relinquish the lad from there on out.

Ponzo-Meek sandwiched three-pointers around a Johnson three-pointer to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 62-53, with 4:08 remaining. The Griffins (5-19, 2-15 CACC) got to within five point on a couple occasions, but the Wildcats went 6-of-6 from the foul line down the stretch for the victory.

After the slow start, Ponzo-Meek finished with a game-high 19 points, adding six rebounds, an assist, and two blocked shots. Johnson hit three three-pointers while going 5-of-6 from the foul like for 16 points, adding seven rebounds, four assists, and two blocks as well. Richards added 14 points and a game-high 10 rebounds for his third consecutive double-double. Richards also added five assists and two steals.

The Wildcats take to the road for their two final regular season contests, both with playoff implications as the Wildcats are trying to host a first-round game. Goldey-Beacom is up first on Saturday with the tip-off scheduled for 6:00 p.m.