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Tyaire Ponzo-Meek Leads Fourth Seed Wilmington Men’s Basketball in Upset, 75-71, over Second Seed Holy Family in CACC Semifinals

Tyaire Ponzo-Meek Leads Fourth Seed Wilmington Men’s Basketball in Upset, 75-71, over Second Seed Holy Family in CACC Semifinals

The story continues.

The fourth seeded Wilmington University men's basketball team pulled the upset once again in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Semifinals, defeating second seeded Holy Family, 75-71, on Friday night hosted by Philadelphia University at the Gallagher Center.

The Semifinal victory propels the Wildcats (11-19) into the CACC Tournament Championship game against third seeded Philadelphia on Saturday night at the Gallagher Center. The Rams upset top seeded USciences, 84-82, in overtime in the first semifinal match of the night. The CACC Tournament Championship tip is set for 7 p.m.

The win also gives the Wildcats the most wins in a single season in its NCAA era, dating back to the 2004-05 season. The Wildcats won 10 games in four different seasons entering into tonight's game.

The final push came within the last 1:35 of game action as Holy Family (22-8) took the lead, 66-65, following four free throws on a foul and ensuing technical foul.

Sophomore Tyaire Ponzo-Meek came down the floor and converted an old-fashioned three-point play with 1:04 left and the Wildcats never relinquished the lead. Wilmington hit 7-of-10 from the line in the final minute to seal the deal.

In a closely contested game throughout, the Wildcats took a 36-32 lead into the halftime break, in large part to a 6-2 in the final three minutes of play. Tied at 30-30, Kevin Ohen hit one from the line before Drew Johnson hit a three-pointer with 1:25 left on the clock. Ohen closed out the half with two more singles form the line.

Ohen was at it again to start eh second half, tipping in a missed layup from Tyrik Gass while getting fouled on the first offensive possession of the half. He hit the free throw to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 39-32.

The Tigers battled back to tie the game at 42-42 and the teams went on the seesaw for the next 10 minutes. Tied at 57-57, the Wildcats went on a 8-2 spurt to lead 65-59 with 2:08 to play, capped by an and-one by Ponzo-Meek.

But the Tigers continued to fight, tying the game for the 13th time with 1:35 to play with the first of two free throws by Reggie Charles following the foul and technical foul shots. It would be the final lead for the Tigers, setting up Ponzo-Meek at the other end.

Ponzo-Meek scored a game high 28 points while dishing out seven assists as Kevin Ohen scored 12 points and grabbed a game high 12 rebounds for his first double-double of the year. Rashaun Rasheed was the final Wildcat in double figures with 10 points off the bench while also grabbing six rebounds.

The Wildcats needed an extraordinary effort on the defensive end if they wanted to pull the upset and they got just that. They held the Tigers to 33.3 percent shooting form the floor, including 12-of-35 from beyond the three-point arc. The Wildcats hit 42.6 percent of their shots, including 5-of-15 from deep.

The Wildcats went 24-for-33 from the foul line on Friday night while the Tigers went 15-of-21. Wilmington again out-rebounded its opponent, 44-35, this time getting it down on the defensive glass, 34-24.

The Rams and the Wildcats split the season series this year, with both team winning on the road. The Rams defeated the Wildcats on January 7 at the WU Athletics Complex, 68-62, before the Wildcats beat the Rams, 72-70, at the Gallagher Center on February 3.

Saturday will be the Wildcats' first appearance in the CACC Tournament Championship game while the Rams are going for the repeat, having won last year's CACC Tournament.