NEWARK, Del. - - Trailing by three points with fewer than eight minutes to play, Wilmington University men's basketball senior Nick Richards took over the game.
He scored 11 of the Wildcats' (13-8, 8-4 CACC) final 20 points to lead the team to an 82-76 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory over Felician on Saturday afternoon at the WU Athletics Complex.
Richards finished with a game-high 32 points and took over the CACC scoring average by outplaying the Golden Falcons' (8-11, 5-6 CACC) Terrell Spaulding. The Wildcats now sit in third place in the CACC South Division, but only one game out of first place behind Jefferson (9-3) and Goldey-Beacom (8-3).
After a tightly contested first half that ended in a 36-36 tie, the players found the scoring touch in the second half as the game began to pick up.
The teams traded three-pointers to kick off the half and neither team could pull further away than four points in the early going. Richards hit back-to-back-to-back shots for the Wildcats to take a 58-52 lead with 13:03 to play, but Spaulding capped a comeback with a three-pointer to regain a 61-60 advantage for the visitors with 9:47 left. Spaulding then made a jumper with 7:54 showing on the clock to put the Golden Falcons up 65-62.
And then Nick Richards happened.
He started the Wildcats' spurt with a layup before assisting on a Shawn Church three-pointer at the end of the shot clock to put the Wildcats ahead, 69-65. Richards then laid one in before hitting a three-pointer to move ahead, 74-67, with 4:34 left in regulation. Two free throws kept the spurt going for Richards and the Wildcats before another Church steal and push ahead to Richards for a layup resulted in an 80-73 lead with 1:58 to play. Danny Walsh ended the run by stepping into a jumper, giving the Wildcats an 82-73 lead with just over a minute to play.
The Golden Falcons only answered with a three-pointer with six seconds left, finalizing the score, 82-73.
Richards finished with a game high 32 points on 13-of-20 shooting (7-of-9 in the second half alone), but also added six rebounds to go with five assists and a steal. Jermaine Head stuffed the stat sheet once again with 16 points, adding nine rebounds, seven assists, and three steals. Paul Medlin returned after missing eight games due to an injury to score 12 points off the bench while Walsh also came off the bench to score 10 points with three steals.
The Golden Falcons were led by Zamir Wright's 18 points while Spaulding finished with 15 points. Felician outshot the Wildcats, 50.9 percent to 47.8 percent, but 18 turnovers led to 21 Wildcat points.
The Wildcats will look to extend their four-game winning streak when they return to action on Tuesday at CACC South Division foe USciences. The men follow the women in the CACC doubleheader with an approximate start time of 8:00 p.m. in Philadelphia.