PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - - The Wilmington University men's basketball team couldn't finish off Jefferson as the Rams took a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division overtime affair, 84-81, at the Gallagher Center on Tuesday afternoon.
In a closely contested match that featured extremely similar statistics throughout, the Rams (9-5, 4-0 CACC) held the advantage at the free throw line, going 9-of-16 for the game compared to the Wildcats (7-5, 2-1 CACC) 3-of-7.
Each team once held leads of as many as nine points, with the Wildcats coming back from an early 9-0 start to take a 38-29 lead with 1:12 left in the first half.
The Rams scored the final five points of the first half to cut the deficit to just 38-34 heading into the break. The Wildcats hit seven three-pointers in the first half, shooting 46.9 percent from the floor in the opening 20 minutes. They dished out nine assists on the 15 made baskets in the half, taking eight more shots than the Rams.
Jefferson shot 54.2 percent from the floor in the first half, but only 4-of-11 from three-point territory. They out-rebounded the Wildcats, 15-11, in the half, but turned the ball over six times to the Wildcats' two.
The Ram run continued to start the second half, as they scored five of the first seven points to get to within a single point, 40-39. Jefferson's Josh Bradanese went on a three-point tear, hitting three in a row with the last giving the home team their first lead since the first half, 56-54, with 12:06 left in regulation.
Jermaine Head put the Wildcats back up 62-58 with a jumper, but the Rams came back with the next eight points, ending with another Bradanese three-pointer for a 68-64 lead with 5:28 to play. Head answered with a three of his own, and then regained the lead for the Wildcats with yet another three-pointer, 72-70, with 3:06 showing on the clock.
A pair of free throws put the Rams back on top, 74-72, with 1:12 left, but Danny Walsh came down and banked home a jumper to tie the contest at 74. The Wildcats controlled a rebound and had the ball with a chance to win at the end, but the Rams forced a long three-pointer from Walsh, which was off the mark, sending the game into overtime.
The teams traded three-pointers to start the overtime session, but Bradanese hit his second triple of the overtime period for an 80-77 lead. The Rams would not relinquish that lead. A dunk put the Rams up 82-77 with 1:22 left before two free throws from Head and a baseline jumper from Paul Medlin cut the deficit to 82-81. The Rams hit their two from the charity stripe, giving the Wildcats one more opportunity to tie the game.
The Wildcats got a good look for Shawn Church in front of their own bench, but his three at the buzzer was off the mark, giving the Rams the 84-81 victory.
Head finished with a game-high 29 points, shooting 11-of-21 from the floor, including 5-of-12 from beyond the three-point arc. He also added seven rebounds and seven assists for the near triple-double. Miles Gillette collected his third double-double of the season, scoring 17 points to go with a team-high 12 rebounds. Walsh hit four three-pointers for 14 points while Church chipped in with 12 points and five assists.
Bradanese came off the bench to score 27 points for the Rams, hitting 7-of-11 from beyond the three-point arc.
The Wildcats head into their mandatory NCAA Division II Holiday Break and return to action on Saturday, December 30 with another CACC South Division showdown against USciences at the WU Athletics Complex. The men cap the CACC doubleheader with a 3:00 p.m. tip.