WILMINGTON, Del. - - The Joseph West Jones Center may not be the home of the Wilmington University men's basketball team, but it seems to be Nick Richard's home.
The senior hit a runner in the lane with 7.3 seconds showing on the clock to propel the Wildcats to a 61-59 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference road victory over in-state rival Goldey-Beacom on Saturday afternoon.
Richards scored a game high 24 points on 9-of-18 shooting on Saturday and is now averaging 29 points in his career at the Joseph West Jones Center. He led the team with 34 points on 14-of-17 shooting and seven rebounds in the Wildcats' two-point victory last season on February 18.
It wasn't easy for the Wildcats (6-3, 2-0 CACC) on Saturday, as they found themselves down late in each half. They were able to overcome each deficit.
The Lightning (4-5, 1-1 CACC) took their largest lead of the game with 5:46 left in the first half, after an old fashioned three-point play gave the home team a 24-17 lead. But the Wildcats went on a 14-4 run to close the half, taking a 31-28 lead into the break.
Richards scored 16 points in the first half, shooting 7-of-13 from the floor. Miles Gillette was the next highest scorer with seven points on 3-of-4 shooting.
The second half started slowly for Richards and the Wildcats, as they didn't score until 3:47 has passed in the half. Goldey-Beacom started the half by scoring the first six points, taking a 34-31 lead. The Lightning continued to hold the lead, taking a 44-38 lead with 11:47 left in regulation.
Goldey-Beacom tied its largest lead of the game at 56-49 with 5:20 to play, but that is when the Wildcats made their move.
Jermaine Head hit a jumper and Gillette followed with a layup to get to within three. Another Head jumper brought the Wildcats to within two points before Richards finally tied the game, 57-57, with 1:30 left on the clock.
Vincent Kent came down with a defensive rebound and Head converted two from the foul line, giving the Wildcats a 59-57 lead with only 54 seconds left.
Corey Taite came down and went into the body of Kent, scoring the bucket to tie the game and getting fouled to go to the line. His free throw was halfway down before popping out and the game remained tied.
After a timeout, Richards got into the lane from the left side and converted his ninth bucket of the game with 7.3 ticks left on the clock.
Without calling a timeout, the Lightning pushed the ball ahead and had a good look from three in front of their own bench. But the shot was short and a game tying put back was also off the mark as the final buzzer sounded, 61-59.
Richards added five rebounds, four assists, and three steals to his game high 24 points. Head and Gillette finished with 16 points each while Gillette was one rebound away from his third straight double-double.
The Wildcats hit just two three-pointers in the game (2-of-14), but shot 44.2 percent from the floor for the game (23-for-52). They held the Lightning to 35.4 percent shooting for the game.
The Wildcats have all week off before taking their three-game winning streak on the road to the AIC Holiday Classic in Springfield, Massachusetts. They will face host American International on Saturday before playing Franklin Pierce on Sunday.