NEWARK, Del. - - Each team once held its own double digit lead but it was the Wilmington University men's basketball team that had the last say, holding on to win their program record fifth straight game, 72-69, in Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference action on Sunday afternoon at the WU Athletics Complex.
In addition to the five-game winning streak, the Wildcats also tied the program's NCAA era mark of 11 wins in a season. The Wildcats are not 11-5 overall and move into sole possession of first place in the CACC South Division at 6-1. The 2014-15 Wildcats finished the season 11-20 overall.
The Chargers (9-7, 4-3 CACC) battled back from a 12-point deficit with 12 minutes left in regulation to eventually take a 60-59 lead with 5:08 showing on the clock. They also held a 68-65 lead as late as with 1:36 left in regulation.
Hovering around an eight-point lead for the beginning of the first half, the Wildcats got a layup from Tyaire Ponzo-Meek and a three-pointer from Nick Richards to take their largest lead of the game, 49-37, with 12:00 minutes left. Ponzo-Meek hit another three-pointer to put the Wildcats up 54-44 with 9:34 on the board, but that is when the Chargers made their move.
The visitors scored eight straight to close the gap to 54-52 before another jumper brought the Chargers all the way back to within 57-56 with 6:12 left. Another Daniel Grant layup followed by two more at the foul line put the Chargers ahead, 60-59.
The teams went on the seesaw for multiple possessions with the Chargers' big-man Gerrel Irvin put the visitors ahead 66-65 with 3:01 to play. The Wildcats weren't able to answer on the other end and Irvin hit a pair from the line to give the Chargers their 68-65 lead.
Dominican had possession to widen the margin once more, but the Wildcats came up with a stop and Ponzo-Meek hit a three-pointer from the left win to tie the game with 1:35 to play. The Chargers again went to their big-man, but Irvin missed from in close and the Wildcats came away with the defensive rebound. Ponzo-Meek made added to his total with a pair at the free throw line on the ensuing trip down the floor, giving the Wildcats a 70-68 lead.
The Chargers had a chance to tie the game with the shot clock unplugged, but Irvin was again fouled and sent to the line. His first free throw was true, but the game-tying attempt was off the mark and Nick Richards came down with the board. He hit his two free throws while the Chargers three-point attempt at the buzzer was off the mark to give the Wildcats the win.
Wilmington got off to a slow start in the game, finding themselves down 19-6 in the opening nine minutes of the game. The home team then settled in and went on a 23-2 run to take a 29-21 lead, eventually going into the halftime break leading 32-24.
Ponzo-Meek led a trio of Wildcats in double digits with 20 points, adding a team-high nine rebounds and three assists. Richards added 18 points while hitting all six of his free throws and Omari Dill-Pettiford scored 12 points. Vince Kent came off the bench and picked up four blocked shots in 15 minutes of action.
The Wildcats will take their five-game winning streak on the road to Bloomfield on Tuesday night for their next CACC contest. The men will finish off the doubleheader with an opening tip-off at approximately 7:30 p.m.