NEWARK, Del. - - The highest scoring output of the season and a late game push allowed the Wilmington University men's basketball team to blow by Nyack, 97-84, in Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference action at the WU Athletics Complex on Saturday afternoon.
The 97 points are the third most in a game in the program's NCAA era, as they were five points from tying the mark of 102 points set on January 14, 2014 against Georgian Court. The Wildcats (16-7, 11-3 CACC) also scored 99 points against Mercy on December 15, 2014.
Saturday night was a two-man show for the Wildcats, as Tyaire Ponzo-Meek dominated the first half before Nyack's (6-15, 2-12 CACC) specialized defense gave Nick Richards an opportunity to go off in the second half.
Ponzo-Meek was red hot during the first half, shooting 10-of-11 from the floor including 4-of-5 from beyond the three-point arc and 3-of-4 from the foul line for 27 points in the first half. But the Warriors wised up and put a face-guard on Ponzo-Meek for the remainder of the game, making it hard for him to even gain possession of the ball.
That was Richards' cue to take over, as he took the lead roll to shoot 6-of-8 from the floor and 8-of-9 from the foul line in the second half for 20 points. He also added five rebounds, two assists, and three steals in the half to put the Wildcats in position to win the game.
Ponzo-Meek finished with a game-high 31 points on 11-of-12 shooting while Richards scored 29 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 12-of-14 from the foul line. Richards and Tajee Almon grabbed a game-high seven rebounds as well.
Not only was Ponzo-Meek hitting the deep shots, he got up above the rim as well, throwing down a fast break dunk to excite the crowd in the first half. But it was his final three-pointer of the half to give the Wildcats a 38-28 lead with 7:11 left in the half.
Still down 10-points with 4:36 left, the Warriors clawed all the way to eventually take the lead with their 15th offensive rebound of the half and put back for the 47-46 lead with 10 seconds left. But Ponzo-Meek had one more trick up his sleeve for the first half, putting in the floater at the buzzer to give the Wildcats the 48-47 lead at the break.
The Warriors had the game to within 60-57 early in the second half before the Wildcats started to stretch the lead. Richards threw down a dunk for the 67-57 lead with 11:47 left in regulation before a Omari Dill-Pettifrod three-pointer put the home team ahead, 76-61. Back-to-back old fashioned three-point plays by Brian Adkins and Richards gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the night, 82-63, with 8:17 showing on the clock.
The Warriors climbed back to within 11-points with 1:32 left, but it was too little too late for the visitors as the Wildcats ran out the clock for the victory.
Dill-Pettiford scored 12 points while Adkins came off the bench to add 11 more for the Wildcats.
As a team, the Wildcats shot 31-for-54 (57.4 percent) from the floor, they best output of the season.
The Wildcats remained locked with Philadelphia in second place in the CACC South Division, one game off Goldey-Beacom. The Wildcats host Holy Family on Tuesday night who is tied for fourth in the standings. The men will follow the women's game with an approximate tip-off at 8:00 p.m.