A push at the end of regulation closed the Wilmington University men's basketball team to within a pair but the University of the Sciences escaped the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference opener, 66-60, on Tuesday night in Bobby Morgan Arena.
An 8-0 run at the end of the first half pushed the Devils (4-1, 1-0 CACC) to an 11 point lead heading into the halftime break and the Wildcats (0-4, 0-1 CACC) were forced to fight from behind for the entire second half.
But fight they did as they quickly closed the gap to 38-32 following a five straight points by Rashaun Rasheed and a layup from Shai Henry with 17:21 to play in regulation.
The Devils responded to every push form the Wildcats, continually pushing the lead back out to 10 points before a layup from USciences' Garret Kerr gave the home team a 55-44 lead with 7:02 to play, the Devils' largest lead of the second half.
Trailing 59-50 with 2:34 to play, the Wildcats' Ta'Vaune Griffin and Valentino Thompson converted back-to-back layup to cut the deficit to 59-54 to 1:29 showing on the clock.
A Thompson three-pointer brought the deficit to 61-57 with 52 seconds remaining and the Wildcats took advantage of the Devils' T-John Casiello only going 1-of-2 from the foul line as Tyaire Ponzo-Meek nailed another three-pointer with 25 seconds to play to bring the Wildcats to within two points, 62-60.
But the Devils' Wes Kerr hit both of his free throws with 14 seconds to place and Ponzo-Meek's three-pointer was off the mark on the Wildcats' next possession. Sho Da-Silva hit both of his free throws for the Devils with four seconds left to settle on the final score of the contest, 66-60.
Rasheed led the Wildcats with 13 points, shooting 6-for-9 from the floor. Thompson added 11 points for the Wildcats while Ponzo-Meek and Griffin chipped in with eight points each. Ponzo-Meek dished out a team high five assists while Griffin grabbed a team high nine rebounds.
The Wildcats shot 41.0 percent from the floor, hitting 25-of-61 overall but the Devils shot a remarkable 58.5 percent from the floor as a team, shooting 24-of-41 overall.
All-American Garret Kerr's 30 points and 15 rebounds led the Devils, while he also collected three assists and four blocked shots. Sho Da-Silva added 13 points off the bench for the Devils as well.
The Wildcats play a pair of games this weekend, heading to NYIT on Saturday before playing their home opener on Sunday against Kutztown. Saturday's set for a 1 p.m. tip at NYIT.