NEWARK, Del. - - A valiant effort by the Wilmington University women's basketball team was thwarted by a first half ending run by the two-time defending Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Champions in Holy Family, 87-70, in a game that was much closer than the final score on Monday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Tigers (4-5, 2-0 CACC) extended the lead to the final margin late in the contest, but the Wildcats (2-6, 1-3 CACC) had the deficit to as little as eight points with 3:12 left in regulation.
A fast start gave the visitors a 28-16 lead with 11:18 to play in the opening half after they started the game by scoring the first 11 points. A 10-0 run by the Wildcats, started by a foul shot by Taylor Carter and followed with buckets by Carter and Jennifer Carr, a three-pointer by Lauren Brown, and the final bucket by Tenicia Spence, brought the Wildcats to a 28-26 deficit with 7:46 to play in the opening stanza.
Now trailing 32-29 with 5:46 showing on the clock, the Tigers reopened the margin by going on a 16-2 to close out the half, heading into the locker room with a 48-31 lead after a Yasmin Walker layup at the buzzer counted.
The Wildcats used their full court press to get back into the contest, but the Tigers then turned the positive in their favor and scored easy buckets at the end of the half by breaking the Wilmington full court press.
The lead grew to as large as 20 for the Tigers in the opening minute of the second half, and held firm at 59-41 with 16:40 left in regulation. The Wildcats then used a 9-0 run to cut the lead in half with 12:47 to play, bringing the home team to within 59-50. The Tigers' lead hovered before 10 and 13 for the next seven minutes before a fast break layup and a three-pointer by Spence on back-to-back possessions brought the home team to within eight at 76-68 with 3:12 showing on the scoreboard.
But that would be as close as the Wildcats could manage in the final moments, as the Tigers closed out the contest on an 11-2 run.
The Wildcats were led by Spence and Cari Callaway's 14 points each while Taylor Carter added 11 and Tiaja Harold chipped in with 10. Callaway went 3-for-3 from three-point territory in the first half to help the Wildcats back into the game, finishing 4-for-8 from deep for the contest. For the game, the Wildcats went 9-for-24 from beyond the three-point arc.
Wilmington forced the Tigers into 25 turnovers, but only turning them into 18 points. On the other hand, the Tigers forced 22 turnovers, getting 24 points in return. The Tigers also out-rebounded the Wildcats, 52-35, while outshooting, 31-for-64 to 25-for-68, the Wildcats as well.
The Wildcats have a day to prepare for their next opponent, as they head to play another CACC South Division foe on Wednesday night. The team travels to Georgian Court for a CACC doubleheader starting at 6 p.m. in Lakewood, N.J.