RUTHERFORD, N.J. - - The team's top two scorers in Tyaire Ponzo-Meek and Nick Richards lifted the Wilmington University men's basketball team to an 82-73 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest at Felician on Wednesday night in Job Gym.
The Wildcats (10-5, 5-1 CACC) were down early in the first half but battled back to take a double-digit lead of their own in the second half. Ponzo-Meek set a new season high with 30 points while Richards followed suit with 23 points in the victory.
The Golden Falcons (6-9, 3-4 CACC) got out to a fast start over the Wildcats, scoring the first five points en route to a 12-2 lead just 4:06 into the game. Wildcat head coach Dan Burke called a timeout to call the troops, and the visitors went on to outscore the Golden Falcons, 36-18, the rest of the first half.
Trailing 16-7, an 11-0 run by the Wildcats set the wheels in motion for the comeback as a steal and fastbreak layup by Ponzo-Meek gave the Wildcats their first lead of the night, 18-16, with 10:18 left in the half. An old fashioned three-point play by Richards tied the game once again at 23, sparking another 9-0 run for the Wildcats that put them in front for the rest of the half. Richards then hit a jumper to send the Wildcats into the break leading 38-30.
The run continued early in the second half, as a quick 8-0 spurt by the Wildcats turned a seven-point advantage into their largest lead of the game at 57-42 with 14:38 to play. Ponzo-Meek started the run with a three-pointer before Richards scored the final five points with a layup and three-pointer off a steal from Drew Johnson II.
But the Golden Falcons wouldn't go away, however, as they scored the game's next 16 points, taking the lead with their fourth three-pointer of the run, 58-57, with 10:40 left on the clock.
Now trailing 60-59, Richards hit a key three-pointer with regain the lead, and the Wildcats used that bucket to propel them to a 9-0 run of their own. Masner Beauplan took a Ponzo-Meek block the length of the floor to cap the run and give the Wildcats a 68-60 lead.
Felician's leading scorer Terrell Spaulding brought the home team to within 71-69, but Ponzo-Meek answered right back with a three-pointer to allow the Wildcats to breathe with 3:35 left. The Wildcats went 8-of-8 from the foul line the rest of the way to keep the Golden Falcons at an arms' length.
Ponzo-Meek shot 10-of-17 (58.8 percent) from the floor, adding a perfect 8-of-8 from the foul line. He also tied for the lead with seven rebounds while adding three steals. Riachards shot 7-of-13 (53.8 percent) from the field, including three three-pointer, adding 6-of-8 from the foul line on the night. He also had a team high five steals. Omari Dill-Pettiford dished out a team high five assists while Johnson added seven rebounds to tie Ponzo-Meek for the team lead.
The Wildcats remain in CACC play for the rest of the season, but return home for their next conference matchup on Saturday. The Wildcats will welcome Dominican to the WU Athletics Complex for a 3:00 p.m. tip-off.