WATERBURY, Conn. - - An off shooting day didn't end well for the Wilmington University men's basketball team as they dropped an important Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference cross-divisional contest at Post, 78-72, on Saturday afternoon.
The loss snaps a three-game winning streak for the Wildcats (17-8, 12-4 CACC) as they look to keep pace with Goldey-Beacom and Philadelphia atop the CACC South Division with now only three-games to play in the regular season. The Eagles (10-14, 9-8 CACC) remain in the fourth spot in the North Division with only two games left in their regular season.
It was hard for the Wildcats to find the bottom of the net on Saturday, as they only shot 29-of-73 (39.7 percent) from the field, including just 5-of-19 (26.3 percent) from three-point territory. That is their lowest shooting percentage for a game since a January 10 loss at Bloomfield, spanning eight games.
The Wildcats got out to a fast start at Post, scoring the first two buckets of the game before back-to-back layups from Nick Richards gave the Wildcats an 8-4 lead. Richards than made a jumper to start a six-point run, giving the visitors their largest lead of the game, 14-8, with 11:38 left in the first half. Richards converted an old-fashioned three-point play to regain a 17-14 lead for the Wildcats before MAsner Beauplan put in two free throws for the 19-16 lead.
But that is when Post made their move in the first half, as a jumper started a 10-0 spurt for the Eagles, taking a 26-19 lead with back-to-back three-pointers late into the first half. Another Eagle three-pointer put the home team ahead, 39-30, with 2:38 left before Omari Dill-Pettiford nailed the final two three-pointers of the half to bring the Wildcats to within 39-36 at the halftime break.
The same fast start didn't happen for the Wildcats in the second half, as Post came out of the break on a 10-0 run, shooting 5-of-8 to take their largest lead of the day, 49-36, with 17:11 showing on the clock.
But the Wildcats responded with a 10-0 run of their own, getting back-to-back baskets from Tyaire Ponzo-Meek before Vince Kent, Richards, and Dill-Pettiford added buckets to get the deficit back down to 49-46 with 14:19 to play.
Back-to-back jumpers from Beauplan brought the Wildcats to within 57-56, but the Wildcats had an answer for every Wildcats run. Back-to-back three-pointer extended the Eagles lead back out to 63-56.
Richards again hit a jumper to bring the Wildcats to within three points, but the Eagles came down and quickly hit a three-pointer to reestablish a six-point lead. Ponzo-Meek answered with a three of his own to again bring it to a three-point deficit but the Eagles didn't waste any time and answered with yet another three-pointer of their own to extend the lead back out to 71-65 once more.
Drew Johnson II hit a three-pointer and was fouled, converting the four-point play to being the game to with 73-68 with 44 seconds left, but the Wildcats couldn't find the bottom of the next again until it was too late. The Eagles were able to hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold off the Wildcats.
Richards shot 10-of-18 from the floor for 23 points, adding 10 rebounds for back-to-back double-doubles. He also contributed the only two assists on the game for the Wildcats. Dill-Pettiford scored 14 points while Ponzo-Meek added 10 points. Tajee Almon and Kent each grabbed seven rebounds for the Wildcats while Beauplan came off the bench for 11 points.
The Eagles out-rebounded the Wildcats, 52-40, including 16-9 on the offensive glass. The Post bench also outscored the Wildcats bench, 36-17, getting 25 points from Tyler Desrosiers.
The Wildcats will look to bounce back with their final home game of the regular season when they host Chestnut Hill on Wednesday night at the WU Athletics Complex. Wednesday is also Senior Night as the Wildcats will honor their four seniors prior to the start of the game. The opening tip is scheduled for 8:00 p.m.