PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - - In a battle against the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division leading Philadelphia, the Wilmington University women's basketball team took the Rams to the brink before falling, 82-73, on Wednesday night at the Gallagher Center.
The Wildcats (6-15, 3-11 CACC) nearly gave the Rams (14-5, 12-0 CACC) its first conference loss of the season, closing the gap to as few as four points in the final minutes. Philadelphia was able to hold on in the end, beating the Wildcats in the teams' closest contest since a seven point game on February 10, 2011.
Wilmington forced one of the best ball controlled teams into 18 turnovers on the nights, turning them into 21 points, 16 of which came in the second half. The match also turned into a test of depth for both teams has the Wildcats narrowly outscored the Rams, 43-42, in points off the bench.
It was one player off the bench for the Rams that the Wildcats were unable to contain however, as Philadelphia's Najah Jacobs scored a game high 29 points off the bench, converting on 18-of-19 from the foul line in the effort. Alex Heck added 11 points and 10 rebounds off the bench for the home team.
The Wildcats had five players score off the bench, led by freshman Jasmine Lee's second double-double of the season. Lee scored 10 of her 11 points in the second half, adding 11 rebounds for the feat. She also secured a double-double against USciences.
Sophomore Tiaja Harrold scored nine points off the bench and tied Lee with a team high 11 rebounds on Wednesday night. Classmate Tenicia Spence led the Wildcats with 16 points, shooting 6-of-16 from the floor.
The game was close from start to finish, as Philadelphia's largest lead was 13 with 14:22 remaining in regulation. From that point, the Wildcats went on a 14-5 run to close the gap to 61-57 with 6:36 showing on the scoreboard.
Tashea Plummer, Lauren Brown, and Lee hit on three straight buckets to start the run with six straight points. Harrold and Lee hit jumpers to keep the deficit at seven before a bucket by Spence closed the gap to 61-55 with 9:09 to play. Lee finished the run with another jumper to bring the game to a four point contest.
Harrold converted a layup a minute later to bring the Wildcats back to within four points again, but then the Rams went on a run of their own. Philadelphia used an 8-2 run over the next minute and a half to open up a double digit lead at 71-61 with 4:00 remaining in the game. Another late push brought the Wildcats back to within six at 77-71 with 28 seconds remaining, and again at 79-73 on a Taylor Carter layup, but with only 17 seconds to play. The Rams hit three of their final four foul shots to close out the victory.
The Rams had four players in double figures, as Tori Arnao added 15 points to follow Jacobs' game high 29. Monica Schacker chipped in with 12 points to go along with Heck's 11. Arnao also concluded with a double-double, securing 12 rebounds.
Wilmington remains on the road for their next two contests, first traveling to Dominican this weekend for a cross divisional matchup. Dominican is currently fifth in the North Division. Saturday's matchup is set to begin at 1 p.m.