PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - - A strong defensive effort allowed the Wilmington University men's basketball team to get revenge on USciences, winning the key Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division matchup, 61-54, on Tuesday night inside Bobby Morgan Arena.
The Wildcats (14-8, 9-4 CACC) separated themselves in the South Division standings with the win, now two games ahead of the Devils (11-10, 7-6 CACC) in third place and just one game out of first place. The win is the fifth in a row for the Wildcats, tying the program's best winning streak in their NCAA era, tying a mark set last year.
The game featured six ties and six lead changes, all coming in the first half. With the game tied at 22-22, the Wildcats scored seven of the final nine points of the half to take a 29-24 lead into the halftime break.
The Devils closed the gap to a single point early in the second half, 29-28, but the Wildcats went on a 12-3 run to take their largest lead of the second half, 41-31, with 12:37 left in regulation. Nick Richards put in back-to-back layups for the Wildcats to take the double-digit lead.
But the Devils didn't roll over, as the Wildcats still held onto an eight-point lead with 5:46 to play. The home team closed the gap to as few as 54-52 with 2:55 showing on the clock with six straight points.
On the ensuing possession, Danny Walsh stopped the Devils' momentum with a three-pointer from the right wing for the five-point advantage. Following a missed Devils' three-pointer, Nick Richards converted a layup to give the Wildcats the 59-52 lead with 1:42 left and momentum.
The Devils answered with a jumper with 1:16 to play, but Jermaine Head hit a tough shot just outside the lane to keep the Devils at an arms' reach. The Devils missed two chances from beyond the three-point arc, which ended any chance of a last second comeback.
CACC leading scorer Nick Richards led all scorers again with 22 points on 10-of-17 shooting. He also added six rebounds and three assists which both tied for the team lead. Danny Walsh hit three three-pointers in shooting 5-of-8 form the floor for the night, scoring 13 points to go with three rebounds, two assists, and two steals. Jermaine Head was the final Wildcat in double figures with 12 points, shooting 5-of-10 from the floor with six rebounds and three assists.
The Wildcats shot 46.3 percent from the floor, including 9-of-19 from beyond the three-point arc for the game. The defense held the Devils to 34.5 percent shooting, including just 5-of-16 from three-point territory. The 54 points allowed have been the fewest this season for the Wildcats.
Wilmington will go for their sixth straight victory when they return to action with a home game against CACC North Division leading and D2SIDA East Region ranked No. 6 Bloomfield on Saturday. Tip-off at the WU Athletics Complex is set for approximately 3:00 p.m.