Copyright 2015; Wilmington University. File photo of Joseph Richards versus Arkansas-Fort Smith taken by Megan Teat.
PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - - Trailing by as many as 14 points in the second half, the Wilmington University men's basketball team made a late game push at USciences but fell 67-62 in the Wildcats' Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference openers on Wednesday night inside Bobby Morgan Arena.
The largest deficit was 14, but the Wildcats (4-4, 0-1 CACC) trailed by 13 with six minutes to play before making their late game push. The lead shriveled to as few as three but the Devils (4-3, 2-0 CACC) held on late for the conference victory.
Although USciences needed to hand on late, the lead started early for the home team as the Devils busted out of the gates to an 8-2 lead. Ta'Vaune Griffin put in a layup to cut the deficit to 13-10, but the Devils put in a three pointer and followed it up with a pair of free throws to open an 18-10 lead with 10 to play in the first half.
Trailing by seven, Paul Medlin put back an offensive rebound to start a 6-0 run and bring the Wildcats to within 24-23 with 5:23 left, but they couldn't ever get over the hump. The Devils answered with a 9-2 run over the rest of the first half, taking a 33-25 advantage into the break.
The team's traded buckets midway through the second half, with Omari Dill-Pettiford converting a layup to bring the Wildcats with within 47-37, but the Devils again had an answer. The home team scored a pair of buckets to take its largest lead of the game, 51-37, with 11:12 to play in regulation. The Wildcats had four layups rim out during the span of the two Devils' buckets.
The Wildcats were able to get the game to within nine points at throughout the next five minutes, but the Devils were able to keep the visitors at an arm's reach, taking a 59-46 lead with 6:02 showing on the clock.
Brian Adkins converted an old fashioned three-point play to start the rally before Richards put in a three-pointer with 2:52 left to bring the Wildcats to within 62-55. Tyaire Ponzo-Meek turned a missed Devils' three-pointer into two-points for the Wildcats and a 62-57 deficit. Following a pair of free throws by the Devils, Dill-Pettiford made a layup and earned a steal before giving the ball up to Drew Johnson II for another layup to bring the Wildcats to within 64-61 with 1:10 left.
The Devils were only able to hit the first of two from the foul line, but the ensuing Wildcat three-pointer was off the mark, essentially ending the comeback bid for the Wildcats.
Ponzo-Meek again led the Wildcats, scoring 14 points while adding 11 rebounds for the double-double. Five of the junior's rebounds came on the offensive glass. Richards poured in 13 points off the bench, hitting three three-pointers. Johnson II was the final Wildcat in double digits with 11 points, shooting 3-for-5, and adding seven rebounds on the night.
The Wildcats outshot the Devils, 40 percent to 32.4 percent, but were hurt by a pair of Devils that recorded 22 points each in Wes Kerr and Sho Da-Silva.
The Wildcats will look to snap a three-game losing streak when they return to the court on Saturday for another CACC road contest. Wilmington will head to Georgian Court in the nightcap of a doubleheader with the Lions, with the opening tip scheduled for approximately 3 p.m.