Copyright 2015; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File Photo of Paul Medlin by Frank Stallworth.
AMHERST, N.Y. - - Down by 13 points halfway through the second half, the Wilmington University men's basketball team climb all the way back to take a 91-87 victory over Roberts Wesleyan in the final game of the ECC-CACC Challenge hosted by Daemen College for their first win of the season.
The Wildcats (1-1) led 49-45 with 14:59 left in regulation, but Roberts Wesleyan (0-2) barged back with runs of 12-0, 17-2, and a final 21-4 run to take their largest lead of the game at 66-53 with 10:12 showing on the clock.
Freshman Omari Dill-Pettiford showed a spark for the Wildcats with a three-pointer before Roberts Wesleyan answered back with a layup at 9:46 remaining. That is when the Wildcats started to take big chunks out of the deficit and make their comeback.
Sophomore Paul Medlin started a 9-0 run with a jumper before newcomer Brian Adkins finished a steal with a fast break dunk to cut the deficit to eight at 68-60. Adkins again cut into the deficit with a jumper before junior Tyaire Ponzo-Meek sank a three-pointer to bring the Wildcats to within 68-65 with 7:39 to play.
The Redhawks ended the drought with a jumper but the Wildcats again converted back-to-back buckets with a Medlin jumper and another steal and layup from Adkins to bring Wilmington to within 70-69 with 6:29 left.
Freshman Joseph Richards brought the Wildcats all the way back with a three-pointer to tie the game at 72 with 5:54 to play before Ponzo-Meek again tied the match at 74 with 5:21 left.
Adkins was at it again on the defensive end, getting a blocked shot and his own rebound at the five-minute mark before pushing it ahead to Ponzo-Meek for a knockdown three-pointer, giving the Wildcats the 77-74 lead with 4:48 left. The Wildcats would not relinquish the lead.
Drew Johnson II gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the half, 79-74, with a layup before Ponzo-Meek took over offensively. The junior answered every Redhawk bucket with a jumper of his own, keeping the Wildcats ahead by five, 83-78, at the three-minute mark. He then converted a turnover into another jumper, putting the Wildcats ahead 85-78 with 52 seconds to play.
Johnson, Adkins, and Ponzo-Meek were able to keep the Redhawks at arm's length by hitting at least one free throw on their trip to the line down the stretch, giving the Wildcats their first win of the season.
Ponzo-Meek led the Wildcats with 25 points in the game, of which 23 came in the second half alone. He shot 9-for-13 in the second stanza, including 2-of-3 from deep and 3-of-4 from the line.
Thirteen of Adkins' 15 points came in the second half as well, as he added four steals, two blocked shots, and five rebounds to lead the comeback. Medlin collected a double-double for the Wildcats, scoring 18 points while adding a team high 13 rebounds. Medlin and Adkins each finished with three blocks.
Dill-Pettiford came off the bench to score 16 points in his first collegiate career game, shooting 6-for-11 from the field including 2-of-3 from three-point territory.
The Wildcats return to action on Wednesday as they make a return trip to New York for a game at Pace. First tip is scheduled for 7:00 p.m.