Kutztown broke the ninth tie of the game with 14:13 remaining in regulation and never looked back, finishing with a 70-61 victory over the Wilmington University men's basketball team on Sunday afternoon in the Wildcats' home-opener at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Wildcats (0-6) out-rebounded the Golden Bears (3-3), 41-37, including a 16-11 advantage on the offensive glass, but the Wildcats were unable to come up with many second chance points in the second half. The Golden Bears shot 43.6 percent from the floor while the Wildcats only shot 35 percent, including a 1-for-8 performance from beyond the three-point arc.
The Wildcats led by as many as six points halfway through the first half following a defensive rebound and push of the ball for a layup by Tyaire Ponzo-Meek with 10:22 left in the half. But the Golden Bears came back to take the lead with a 10-2 run before Valentino Thompson hit a pair of free throws to put the Wildcats back up by five, 25-20, with 4:56 to play.
Ponzo-Meek gave the Wildcats a 29-27 lead with another driving layup with 1:11 to play but the Golden-Bears put back a missed fastbreak layup at the buzzer as Howard Sellars collected the offensive rebound and putback to send the teams into the locker rooms at a 29-29 deadlock.
The teams went back and forth through the beginning of the second half as Ta'Vaune Griffin hit a jumper from the left elbow for a 34-31 lead with 16:55 left in regulation. A traditional three-point play by Kutztown's Tracy Peal, Jr., tied the game at 34-34 before Wilmington's Shai Henry hit a jumper with 14:33 remaining to tie the game for the ninth time at 36-36.
A quick 5-0 run for the Golden Bears gave the visitors a 41-36 lead following a three-pointer and a fastbreak layup with 13:34 to play. The Golden Bears never looked back from that point.
The Kutztown lead ballooned to double figures with 6:02 left on the clock before the Golden Bears took their largest lead of the game, 63-50, with 1:34 remaining in regulation. A jumper by Sam Sanders cut the deficit to seven, 66-59, but it was too little too late for the Wildcats as Kutztown kept them at an arms' reach for the rest of the game.
Henry led the Wildcats with his first double-double of the season, scoring 15 points while grabbing a game high 17 rebounds, seven of which came on the offensive glass. Ponzo-Meek led all scorers with 18 points for the Wildcats, while also grabbing eight boards.
The Wildcats return to Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference action for their next contest, as they welcome Chestnut Hill to the WU Athletics Complex for a doubleheader on Wednesday. The men will start the doubleheader at 6 p.m.