The Wilmington University men's basketball team only shot 30.4 percent from the floor as Saint Michael's defense stymied the Wildcats, 77-61, on Sunday afternoon in nonconference action played at Chestnut Hill's Sorgenti Arena.
An early lead didn't hold for the Wildcats (3-9) as they dropped back-to-back games since winning three straight earlier this month. The win was the fifth straight for the Purple Knights (8-2) as they took both games against Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference opponents this weekend.
Rashaun Rasheed hit a jumper to put the Wildcats ahead, 9-6, with 14:20 remaining in the first half but the Purple Knights rattled off 16 straight points to take a 22-9 lead and control of the contest. The Purple Knights did not relinquish the lead for the rest of the contest.
A 7-0 run at the end of the first half cut the Wildcats deficit to six, as Valentino Thompson hit a three-pointer with 47 seconds to play but Saint Michael's Greg Grippo responded with his own three-pointer on the ensuing possession to give the Purple Knights a 35-26 lead at the halftime break.
Leading 41-30 with 17:04 remaining in regulation, the Purple Knights hit back-to-back three-pointers en route to a 16-0 lead, capped by another Grippo three-pointer to lead 57-30 with 13:48 left on the scoreboard.
A Tyaire Ponzo-Meek three-point cut the Wildcats' deficit to 15 with 6:41 left before a layup by Kevin Ohen on the break had the Wildcats to within 13, 66-53, with 5:27 showing on the scoreboard. But that would be as close as the Wildcats would get for the rest of the contest as the Purple Knights extended the lead back out to 20 before settling on the 16-point victory.
Ohen finished with 19 points to lead the Wildcats, but shot 7-of-20 from the field to get it. Thompson scored 13 points off the bench, shooting 7-of-8 from the foul line while Ponzo-Meek added 10 points and a team high four assists on the afternoon. Rasheed, Tyrik Gass, playing in his first game this season, and Shai Henry each grabbed a team high six rebounds.
The Wildcats shot 21-of-69 from the floor, including 5-of-19 from three-point territory in the loss while the Purple Knights shot 28-of-64 (43.8 percent) from the floor, which included 8-of-20 from deep.
Saint Michael's out-rebounded the Wildcats, 49-40, while the Wildcats scored 17 points off the Purple Knights' 17 turnovers. The Wildcats finished with seven steals with Thompson leading the way with three.
Sunday's contest was the final game for the Wildcats prior to the mandatory NCAA Division II break and will return to action on New Year's Eve. The Wildcats head to CACC South Division rival Holy Family on December 31 with a 1 p.m. tip-off.