Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Tyaire Ponzo-Meek against Bloomsburg, Taken by Frank Stallworth.
NEWARK, Del. - - Trailing by double digits early in each half, the Wilmington University men's basketball team couldn't climb all the way out of the second half hole, falling 84-81, to Bloomsburg in nonconference action on Saturday afternoon at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Wildcats (3-2) dropped their first game against an NCAA Division II opponent this season, but despite the largest second half deficit, still had a possession with the shot clock turned off to win the game at the end of regulation.
The Huskies (3-2) led by as many as 14-points early in the first half, but the Wildcats battled all the way back to take a lead prior to the halftime break. Leading by five points at the break, the Huskies opened the second half on a 22-4 run to grab its largest lead of the afternoon, 67-44, with 12:56 left in regulation.
That is when the Wildcats went to work, starting with a 7-0 spurt over the next minute of game play. Tyaire Ponzo-Meek hit a three-pointer to bring the Wildcats to within 67-52 with 11:33 showing on the clock. A Ponzo-Meek bucket and free throw started another 7-0 run, getting the Wildcats to within 75-65 with 7:16 left in regulation.
A Huskies' three-pointer expanded the visitors' lead back out to 82-74 with 3:07 to play, but the Wildcats answered with a Dill-Pettiford jumper and three made free throws from Tajee Almon had the Wildcats to within three points, 82-79.
The Wildcats' defense earned a stop and defensive rebound as Almon was once again fouled to go to the line for two more freebies with 25 seconds left. Out of a timeout, the Wildcats forced a turnover on an offensive foul at midcourt, giving the home team a chance for the win with the shot clock turned off.
But the Huskies defense stood tall, trapping Brian Adkins in the corner and forcing him into a turnover of his own while looking to kick the ball back out to the perimeter with 3.6 seconds to play. The Huskies hit both from the line while Ponzo-Meek's half court attempt to tie the game was off the mark, ending the Wildcats' comeback bid.
Ponzo-Meek was held scoreless for the first 12 minutes of the game, but finished with a team high 25 points. Dill-Pettiford came off the bench for 18 points on 8-of-16 shooting while Nick Richards poured in 14 points and collected four steals. Gillette came off the bench to score a season high 10 points and added a team high seven rebounds.
The Huskies were led by Christian Mortellite's 28 points, 19 of which came in the second half. He hit six three-pointers in the game, going 6-of-8 from deep in the contest.
The Wildcats continue their mini three-game tour through the PSAC, heading to Shippensburg on Monday night. The Wildcats and Red Raiders tip-off at 7:00 p.m. inside the Heiges Field House.