LAKEWOOD, N.J. - - Despite a 76-71 loss to Georgian Court on Wednesday night at the Wellness Center, the Wilmington University men's basketball team will appear in the 2019-20 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament for the fourth year in row.
A large rebounding difference, including 12 second half offensive rebounds by the Lions (9-16, 7-11 CACC) allowed the home team to pull away in the second half and secure a playoff berth for the first time in program history. Holy Family lost to Chestnut Hill tonight, locking the Wildcats (10-17, 8-10 CACC) into one of the four positions from the South Division.
In the loss, redshirt senior Jermaine Head (Edgewood, Md./Joppatowne) became the Wildcats' all-time leading scorer in the program's NCAA era, surpassing Tyaire Ponzo-Meek's mark of 1,808 career points set in 2016-17. Head only needed seven points to break the record tonight, finishing with 19 points to head into the regular season finale on Saturday with 1,821 points.
Georgian Court sped out to a 9-0 lead before the Wildcats answered with a 10-1 run of their own in the early going. Jermaine Head hit a three-pointer to give the Wildcats their first lead of the night, 13-12, starting a 10-2 spurt to give them their largest lead of the night, 20-14, with 8:47 left in the first half. The Lions went on a 9-0 run to grab a 23-20 lead and again led 27-22 with 4:02 to play.
After the made bucket, Jermaine Head took the inbounds pass and sped the other way and got into the lane. Just like how he's been able to score a majority of his points, Head hung in the air and avoided contact, spinning one off the glass for his sixth and seventh points of the night, setting the new career record.
Head hit a three-pointer to take a 30-29 lead, and then another jumper with less than a minute to play in the half to take a 32-29 lead. But the Lions hit a three-pointer on their final possession of the half to tie the game, 32-32.
The teams traded buckets in the early going of the second half, with eight lead changes in the first six minutes of the half. The Lions took a 56-51 lead with 11:41 to play, but Danny Walsh 12 straight points for the Wildcats, including a three-pointer to take a 63-62 with 7:39 left in regulation. Jermaine Head put in a layup to grab 65-63 lead with 6:58 to play, but unfortunately for the Wildcats, that would be the last lead for the visitors.
The Lions scored six-straight to take a 69-65 lead with 4:58 to play, and the closest the Wildcats would get would be 69-68 after a Jermaine Head old fashioned three-point play with 3:42 to play. A Lions' layup and three foul shots put the home team up 74-68 with less than a minute to play. Danny Walsh hit a three-pointer, but the Lions kept hitting free throws at the other end, closing out the game, 76-71.
Walsh led the Wildcats with 23 points, hitting five three-pointers while adding four rebounds, three steals, and two assists. Head finished with 19 points while adding five assists, three rebounds, a steal, and a blocked shot. Kam Cooper came off the bench to score 14 points, adding four rebounds as well.
It is the fourth straight year the Wildcats have advanced to the CACC Tournament, and the fifth in the last six years, all under head coach Dan Burke.
The Wildcats will close out the regular season on Saturday, as they host crosstown rival Goldey-Beacom on Senior Day. The opening tip is set for 3:00 p.m. at the WU Athletics Complex.