NEWARK, Del. - - A 10-point halftime lead was not enough for the Wilmington University women's basketball team as Clarion came from behind for the nonconference victory, 74-69, at the WU Athletics Complex on Wednesday night.
The Wildcats (1-2) outscored the Golden Eagles (2-1), 21-13, in the second quarter to take a 39-29 lead into the halftime break, but the visitors responded with a 21-9 third quarter to take over the contest.
The first half started with three straight buckets by the Wildcats' Precious Palmer, Jadyn Whitsitt, and Macy Robinson to take a 14-6 lead late in the first quarter. But the Golden Eagles closed the quarter on a 10-4 run to close the gap to 18-16 after one 10-minute session.
The Golden Eagles fought all the way back to take a 24-23 lead with 6:03 left in the second quarter, but the Wildcats finished the half on a flurry. Nyree Grant converted an old-fashioned three-point play for a 28-24 lead and the Wildcats' lead was still only four points with 46 seconds showing on the clock. But Whitsitt started a late spurt with a layup, and Grant beat the buzzer on a nice play in the lane, catching and releasing a pass from Robinson while in the air to send the Wildcats into the half, 39-29.
Out of the break, the Wildcats couldn't get on the board in the third quarter until 2:40 into the half, as the Golden Eagles cut the deficit to 39-35. Robinson hit a three-pointer for a seven-point lead with 6:27 on the clock, but the Wildcats wouldn't score again for over four minutes of action. A couple of Clarion three-pointers gave the visitors a 45-44 lead with 2:39 left in the quarter, their first lead since the game was 24-23.
The Wildcats regained a 48-45 lead on a Whitsitt fastbreak, but the Golden Eagles came right back to tie the game with a three-pointer. They would end the third quarter with a 50-48 lead.
Williams opened the fourth quarter with the first four points and hit a three-pointer to cap a 7-2 run to give the home team a 55-52 lead with 8:47 remaining in regulation. But Clarion answered with a 7-0 run of their own to take a 59-55 lead moments later. The Wildcats had trouble in defending the high pick-and-roll in the second half, and the Golden Eagles took full advantage, using it to spring another three-pointer, 64-59, with 5:51 to play.
The lead continued to grow for Clarion, as it opened the largest lead of the game, 70-61, as late as 3:04 left in the contest. But Whitsitt didn't want the Wildcats to go quietly, putting in three straight layups before Williams hit one free throw to cut the deficit to 70-68 with 1:16 showing on the clock.
Clarion would only hit one free throw at the other end to keep the Wildcats alive, but Palmer missed two good opportunities from in close before Williams was fouled, only hitting one free throw to bring the game to 71-69 with 19 seconds left. The Golden Eagles would hit three more foul shots to close out the victory, 74-19.
The Wildcats struggled from the foul line on Wednesday night, only going 11-of-23 (47.8 percent). They also only hit 2-of-12 from beyond the three-point arc for the game.
The freshman Whitsitt led the Wildcats with 16 points and seven rebounds while Williams also poured in 16 points and six rebounds. Robinson finished with 13 points on 5-of-8 shooting with five assists while Grant came off the bench to score 10 points.
The Wildcats take to the road for their next contest, as they head to the District of Columbia on Saturday. The opening tip is scheduled for 3:00 p.m.