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NEWARK, Del. - - Danny Walsh hit a game-winning three-pointer to cap a fantastic finish as the Wilmington University men's basketball team took down No. 19 Shippensburg, 73-71, in a Wednesday matinee at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Raiders (3-2) are ranked No. 19 in the latest National Association of Basketball Coaches Division II National Poll. It is believed to be the first win over a ranked opponent in the Wildcats' (3-2) NCAA era (2004-05).
The Wildcats led by as many as 14 points early in the second half, but needed to stem a late game comeback as Shippensburg charged back to lead by as many as nine with only 6:50 left. Walsh was a big component in the comeback, scoring the Wildcats' final eight points, including the would-be game-winner with 3.6 ticks showing on the game clock.
But the game didn't end there, as the Raiders drew a play that would net a three-pointer at the other end. Out of a timeout, the Raiders flew up the court and had Antonio Kellem on the left win open for three and the win. But the Wildcats' defense slowed the pace just enough, as the ball was still in Kellem's hand as the buzzer went off, resulting in the referees waving off the made bucket and stopping the fight at 73-71 in favor of the Wildcats.
It didn't seem as though the game was going to come down to the wire, as the Wildcats led for 25:47 of the 40 minutes played.
After Shippensburg hit a three-pointer to take a 10-8 lead, the Wildcats rattled off 10 straight to take an 18-10 lead on a Jermaine head free throw with 10:02 to play in the first half. The first half lead grew to as large as 24-14 with 6:21 left before the Raiders closed the gap to as close as 35-31. Paul Medlin and Miles Gillette finished the half with layups for the 39-31 halftime lead in favor of the home team.
Head hit back-to-back buckets to start the second half before Walsh gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 45-31, with 18:01 left in regulation. That's when the three-pointers started to rain down for the Raiders, as they hit five in a 21-6 run to take their first lead since early in the first half, 52-51, with 11:52 showing on the clock.
The Raiders kept pushing and eventually held a 66-57 lead on a Justin McCarthur three-pointer with 6:50 left in regulation. Walsh found a soft spot in the zone and hit a jumper from the free throw line before Head came up with a steal and bucket to close the gap to 66-65 with 2:21 to play. McCarthur hit another three-pointer for the Raiders for a four-point lead with a minute left, but Walsh came down and hit his second three-pointer to again close the gap to a single point with 47 ticks left.
Church disrupted a McCarthur layup chance and the Wildcats had a chance. Much like their game at Millersville, Church drove to the basket and found Walsh open in the corner. He hit the three-pointer with no hesitation to give the Wildcats the lead, 73-71.
Walsh finished with a game-high 21 points on 9-of-12 shooting, hitting 3-of-4 from beyond the three-point arc. Gillette came off the bench for 14 points and six rebounds while Church finished with 13 points and a team high eight boards. Medlin went 6-of-8 from the floor for 12 points while Head was the final Wildcat in double digits with 11 points, adding nine assists and five rebounds.
The Wildcats shot 50.7 percent from the floor, despite just hitting 4-of-19 from three-point territory. The Raiders hit 14 three-pointers, going 14-of-31 from deep in the game.
The Wildcats remain with PSAC opponents for their next contest, heading to West Chester on Saturday. The game will be played at Widener University due to West Chester's gym being renovated. The opening tip is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.