Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Brian Adkins at the end of the first half by Frank Stallworth.
NEWARK, Del. - - A late first half burst before the buzzer allowed the Wilmington University men's basketball team to snap an eight-game losing streak and pick up their first Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory with a 79-73 victory over Bloomfield on Wednesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
Tyaire Ponzo-Meek led a trio of Wildcats (5-9, 1-5 CACC) in double digits with a game high 34 points, shooting 11-of-18 from the floor including 4-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc. Brian Adkins and Sam Sanders came off the bench to score 11 and 10 points, respectively.
After a slow start the first half, the Wildcats finished with a flurry, scoring the final seven points including a buzzer beating fast break dunk by Adkins to give the Wildcats a 38-33 lead going into the locker room.
But the team needed to comeback before they could take the lead, as they were down by as many as nine points with 12:21 left in the first half. Adkins started a 9-2 Wildcats' run with a three-pointer before Ryan LeBoon, Adkins, and Ponzo-Meek followed with layups to cut the gap to 17-15 with 9:12 left in the half. Another 10-2 run pushed the Wildcats ahead, 25-21, capped by a Sanders' three-pointer, with 5:30 to play.
The Bears fought back, however, and taking a 33-31 lead with 1:58 left in the half before Ponzo-Meek started the 7-0 to end the half with a three-pointer. The junior then converted a steal into a layup with 15 seconds left before Adkins finished off the half with a steal and another fast break dunk.
The Wildcats led for the first 10 minutes of the second half, but the Bears kept making a push. Ponzo-Meek answered a Bears run with a three-pointer to keep the Bears deficit at four with 16:51 to play, and answered another Bears' run with a layup, 49-46, with 13:52 left. But the Bears were persistent and eventually tied the game with a three-pointer, 54-54, with 10:53 showing on the clock.
Following back and forth action, Bloomfield again tied the game, 65-65, but freshman Omari Dill-Pettiford hit his lone three-pointer of the game with 5:12 left in regulation to give the Wildcats a lead they wouldn't relinquish. Drew Johnson II followed the Dill-Pettiford three-pointer up with a three of his own for the 71-65 lead.
The Wildcats went 8-of-9 from the foul line in the final 45 seconds to ice the game and keep the Bears at an arms' reach.
The Wildcats take to the road for another CACC cross divisional contest on Saturday, as they head to Caldwell for the nightcap of a CACC doubleheader. The Wildcats and Cougars will tip off at 3:00 p.m. following the women's game.