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TOURNAMENT PREVIEW: Wilmington Men’s Basketball Takes Program’s Best Regular Season into CACC Tournament

Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo by Frank Stallworth.
Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo by Frank Stallworth.

NEWARK, Del. - - The 2016-17 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Men's Basketball Tournament begins on Saturday with a First Round contest between the Wilmington University men's basketball team and Caldwell University at the WU Athletics Complex.

The Wildcats earned the South Division's number two seed by having their best regular season in the program's NCAA era, finishing the regular season 19-9 overall and 14-5 in the CACC. Prior to this year, the 2014-15 team held the record for wins in a season with 11 overall and eight CACC victories.

The Wildcats are participating in their third CACC Tournament, with their first appearance coming in the 2009-10 season. They also appeared in the 2014-15 CACC Tournament, advancing to the CACC Tournament Championship game before falling to Philadelphia University.

The CACC Tournament First Round games will be held at the higher seed while the advancing teams will head to Caldwell University for the rest of the CACC Tournament. 

Links to Follow the CACC Quarterfinals:

Live Stats:
Live Stream:
CACC Tournament Central:

Admission to 2017 CACC Men's Basketball Tournament First Round Game:

Adults - $6.00
Seniors - $3.00
Students (with valid ID) - $3.00
WilmU Students (with valid ID) – Free
Children under 6 – Free

Scouting the South No. 2 Wilmington University Wildcats:

The Wildcats feature two of the top five scorers in the CACC in Tyaire Ponzo-Meek and Nick Richards. They are the top two scorers of the CACC Tournament with the other three players in the top five during the regular season did not advance to the CACC Tournament.

Ponzo-Meek leads the Wildcats in scoring 19.7 points per game, scoring in double digits in all 28 games this season. He has extended his streak to 62 consecutive games in reaching double digits in scoring, dating back to February 14, 2015, during his sophomore season. He had a season high 31 points at Nyack on February 4.

Richards finished fifth in scoring during the regular season, soring 18.3 points per game this season. He's scored in double digits in all but two games this season, scoring a season's best 34 at Goldey-Beacom on February 18 to clinch a home playoff game. He's also scored 33 points against West Chester and 30 points in two other games this season.

Sophomore Omari Dill-Pettiford also averages double digits for the Wildcats, scoring 12.3 points per game. Drew Johnson II is just shy of double figures, scoring 9.3 points per game this season. Tajee Almon leads the team in grabbing 6.8 rebounds per game while Richards secures 6.5 boards as game as well. Richards also leads the team in dishing out 3.3 assists per game while Ponzo-Meek is third on the team in averaging 3.2 assists per game.

As a team, the Wildcats are third in the CACC in scoring 78.5 points per game this season. Only Goldey-Beacom (82.1) and Bloomfield (82.1) average more per game than the Wildcats. Defensively, the team is seventh in the CACC in only allowing 75.7 points per game. They are also second in the CACC in picking up 4.5 blocks per game and third overall in getting to the free-throw line.

Scouting the North No. 3 Caldwell University Cougars:

The Cougars come into the CACC Tournament on a three-game winning streak while also winning five of their last six games overall. They ended the regular season in fine fashion on Tuesday night, defeating Concordia, 90-65. Caldwell finished the regular season 16-11 overall and 11-8 in the CACC.

The Cougars are led by Derek Dorn's 15. 4 points per game while Zay Jennings averages 12.4 points per game. Vaughn Covington also scores in double figures, averaging 11.2 points a contest. Austin Woods leads the team in grabbing 5.7 rebounds per game while Ruud Lutterman picks up 5.2 boards a contest. Lutterman also leads the CACC in making 60 percent of his shots on the year, averaging 8.3 points per game.

As a team, the Cougars score 75.6 points per game while only allowing 72.7 points per game. They are third in the CACC in making 221 three-pointers on the year and tied for sixth with the Wildcats in hitting 34.1 percent of their long-distanced attempts. Caldwell is second in the CACC in making 461 free throws, leading the conference with a 74.5 free throw percentage. They are also fourth in the CACC in picking off 7.2 steals a contest and 3.8 blocks per game.

All-Time Series vs. Caldwell:

Saturday will be the 17th meeting between the two programs since the Wildcats joined the NCAA ranks for the 2004-05 season. The Wildcats snapped a three-game losing streak to the Cougars with a win during the regular season this year. Caldwell leads the all-time series, 10-6.

The only time the Wildcats won two games against the Cougars in the same season was in 2005-06, sweeping the regular season series back when teams played every team twice in the CACC. The Wildcats also won games in 2008-09, and back-to-back games in 2011-12 and 2012-13.

The Wildcats are 4-4 against the Cougars when playing at home. Since the construction of the WU Athletics Complex in 2012-13, the Wildcats are 2-1 against the Cougars at home. Saturday will be the first time these two teams have met in the CACC Tournament.

Wilmington in the CACC Tournament:

2009-10 (0-1): S#2 Goldey-Beacom 79 – S#3 Wilmington 71

2014-15 (2-1): S#4 Wilmington 69 – N#1 Dominican 67; S#4 Wilmington 75 – S#2 Holy Family 71; S#1 Philadelphia 77 – S#4 Wilmington 68

Overall: 2-2

Season Series and All-Time vs. CACC Tournament Participants:

North Division:
#1 Bloomfield College: 2016-17 – at L 86-64; All-Time – 3-13; CACC Tournament – 0-0
#2 Dominican College: 2016-17 – vs. W 72-69; All-Time – 5-12; CACC Tournament – 1-0
#3 Caldwell University: 2016-17 – vs. W 85-68; All-Time – 6-10; CACC Tournament – 0-0
#4 Post University: 2016-17 - at L 78-72; All-Time – 5-11; CACC Tournament – 0-0

South Division:
#1 Philadelphia University: 2016-17 – vs. W 70-64/at L 81-61; All-Time – 5-20; CACC Tournament – 0-1
#2 Wilmington University
#3 Goldey-Beacom College: 2016-17 – vs. W 85-76/at W 79-77; All-Time – 7-20; CACC Tournament – 0-1
#4 University of the Sciences: 2016-17 – at L 91-80/vs. W 79-70; All-Time – 8-18; CACC Tournament – 0-0

2016-17 CACC Basketball Tournament Schedule:

QUARTERFINALS (Saturday, Feb. 25 at Higher Seed)
2:00 p.m. – S#4 USciences at N#1 Bloomfield
2:00 p.m. – S#3 Goldey-Beacom at N#2 Dominican
2:00 p.m. – N#4 Post at S#1 Philadelphia
2:00 p.m. – N#3 Caldwell at S#2 Wilmington

SEMIFINALS (Saturday, March 4 at Caldwell University)
Bloomfield/USciences Winner vs. WilmU/Caldwell Winner (12 or 2 p.m.)
PhilaU/Post Winner vs. Dominican/G-B Winner (12 or 2 p.m.)

*Highest remaining seed will play in the day's first semis at 12 p.m.
*Two remaining seeds will play in the day's second semis at approx. 2 p.m.

CHAMPIONSHIP FINAL (Sunday, March 5 at Caldwell University)
Two Semifinal Winners (12 p.m.)