Video Recap at bottom of page.
Copyright 2017; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Nick Richards who picked up teh team's first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 rebounds against Pace.
NEWARK, Del. - - A late first half push carried the Wilmington University men's basketball team to a 75-65 nonconference victory over Pace on Wednesday night at the WU Athletics Complex in the Wildcats' 2016-17 home opener.
The win pushes the Wildcats to 3-0 on the year, a mark that hasn't been done in the program's NCAA era starting with the 2004-05 season. It was also the team's first win in a home opener since the 2013-14 season.
The Wildcats scored their 10th point of the game with 17:18 remaining in the first half, but didn't score again until 11:11 showing on the clock. They had their four-point lead turn into a 15-10 deficit during the drought, but it was all Wilmington for the rest of the half once they broke out.
A person 7-0 by sophomore Omari Dill-Pettiford sparked the Wildcats, regaining a 17-15 lead with his fastbreak layup with 10:19 remaining in the half. Drew Johnson started another 10-0 run with a three-pointer for the Wildcats, followed by a Masner Beauplan three-pointer moments later. Nick Richards laid one home for the 27-20 lead with 5:31 left before the break.
Drew Johnson II hit a three-pointer for a 32-22 lead before sinking another one form distance for the 35-24 lead with 2:05 to play. Richards capped the first half scoring by pick-pocketing a Setter (2-1) player and taking the ball the length of the quart for a fast break dunk and the 37-26 halftime lead.
The Setters clawed to within 43-39, but the Wildcats had an answer with four straight points of their own. Tajee Almon had some thunderous second half dunks to keep the crowd involved, first off a steal and fast break alley-oop from Tyaire Ponzo-Meek for the 51-44 lead.
But Pace again closed the gap to as few as four points at 59-55, but the Wildcats never relinquished the lead, scoring the next six points to regain momentum. Almon put a stamp on the Setters as a part of that 6-0 run, again getting out on the run and getting a nice one-touch pass from Dill-Pettiford for the slam, 65-55, with 4:39 left in regulation.
The Wildcats crashed the boards hard on Wednesday night, out-rebounding the Setter, 52-39, including 18-11 on the offensive glass.
Richards led the Wildcats with a double-double, scoring 10 points but leading the team with 11 rebounds and five assists. Ponzo-Meek poured in 18 points while Johnson finished with three three-pointers and 16 points overall. Dill-Pettiford came off the bench to put in 13 points and grab six rebounds. Almon finished with six points, nine rebounds, two steals, and two blocks off the bench for the Wildcats.
The Wildcats have no time to rest on their victory on Wednesday, as they are back on the court once again on Thursday night. They head to NCAA Division I foe Morgan State for a 7:30 p.m. tip-off in Baltimore, Md.