SALEM, W.Va. - - A furious fourth quarter comeback fell just short for the Wilmington University women's basketball team, as a game-tying three pointer at the buzzer was off the mark, falling at Salem International, 87-84, on Tuesday night in the team's final nonconference contest of the year.
Trailing by as many as 18 points late in the fourth quarter, the Wildcats (6-17) staged a 31-point fourth quarter. But Emma Matthews' game tying three-pointer at the buzzer was off the mark, falling just short to the Tigers (6-15).
The Wildcats jumped out early in the first quarter, as Macy Robinson hit a three-pointer to give the Wildcats a 14-8 lead with 5:52 left in frame. But the Tigers went on a 19-8 run the rest of the quarter, taking a 27-22 lead into the second quarter.
The visitors clawed to within 29-28 midway through the second quarter, but a 13-2 run over the final 5:09 of the quarter put the Tigers ahead, 42-30, at the halftime break.
The Tigers continued to push in the third quarter, growing their lead as large as 62-44 with 2:10 left in the third quarter. Emma Matthews scored seven of the Wildcats' nine points the rest of the quarter, using a small 9-5 spurt to head into the fourth quarter trailing 67-53.
Still down 14 points, Robinson started an 8-0 run to get to within 69-63 just 2:01 into the final frame. Robinson again sparked another 8-0 run with a three-pointer, followed by a Matthews' triple and a Nyree Grant layup to climb to within 74-71 with 5:10 to play. Back-to-back Grant layups brought the Wildcats all the way back to within 79-77 with 2:48 left on the clock, but the Tigers answered with a three-pointer and still led 83-79 with a 1:13 showing on the clock.
Precious Palmer kept the Wildcats alive with a layup with 55 seconds left and grabbed the defensive rebound as the Tigers missed a three-pointer at the other end. Matthews came down and hit a straight away three-pointer with 22 ticks left, giving the Wildcats their first lead since the first quarter, 84-84.
But the Tigers answered right away, taking the inbounds and driving the length of the court for a layup with 11 seconds left in regulation.
The Wildcats had two opportunities to take the lead with under 10 seconds left, but Matthews missed a runner just outside the lane for the lead with five seconds left, and then missed a three-pointer at the buzzer to tie the game.
The Wildcats outscored the Tigers, 31-20, in the fourth quarter.
Grant led the Wildcats with 26 points, adding 12 rebounds for another double-double. Matthews scored 25 points while hitting five three-pointers, adding eight rebounds and eight assists for the new triple-double. Robinson chipped in with 16 points and 15 rebounds, narrowly missing the triple-double as well with eight assists.
The Tigers scored 22 points off 19 Wilmington turnovers, while the Wildcats could only turn 14 Tiger turnovers into nine points on the offensive end.
The Wildcats return to Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference action for the rest of the season, starting with a road trip to Dominican on Saturday. The cross divisional contest is set for a 1:00 p.m. opening tip.