Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo of Omari Dill-Pettiford.
NEWARK, Del. - - The Wilmington University men's basketball team was unable to come up with key stops down the stretch as Concordia pulled out an 88-85 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference victory on Friday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Wildcats (6-14, 1-10 CACC) outshot the Clippers (8-11, 5-5 CACC), 48.5 percent to 46.1 percent, while also out-rebounding the visitors, 46-36, but the Clippers were able to hit 10 three-pointers and come up with key buckets down the stretch to answer every Wildcat threat.
Trailing 7-1 to begin the game, the Wildcats scored seven straight in part of a 13-1 run to take a 14-9 lead early on. The Clippers' leading scorer Peter Aguilar cut the deficit to a single bucket, 22-20, before Brian Adkins and Sam Sanders hit back-to-back three-pointers to give the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 28-20, with 4:24 left in the first half.
The Clippers' responded with a three-pointer of their own to bring the visitors to within a single point, but Tyaire Ponzo-Meek put in a layup with a minute to play and then hit a step back jumper as the buzzer sounded to put the home team up, 38-35.
The Clippers roared out of the gates in the second half with the first nine points, forcing the Wildcats into a timeout trailing, 44-38. Now down seven, the Wildcats fired back with an 8-2 run of their own, getting six points from Paul Medlin in the run. After the clippers scored to open a three-point lead, Medlin scored back-to-back buckets once again while Ponzo-Meek and Omari Dill-Pettiford added layups to give the Wildcats a 56-51 lead with 12:56 left in regulation.
Medlin pulled down an offensive rebound and found a cutting Dill-Pettiford for another layup, keeping the Wildcats in front, 58-55. But the Clippers came back down the floor and hit a three-pointer to tie the game, and then followed it with a fastbreak dunk and a foul to take the lead.
Ponzo-Meek was able to get the Wildcats to within a pair on a couple of occasions, first with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 67-65 and a pair of free throws to bring the score to 69-67 with 7:35 to play. Drew Johnson II tied the game with a layup with 6:41 to play, but once again, the Clippers came back with another made jumper to get back in front.
The Clippers took a 79-73 lead before Dill-Pettiford went on a 4-0 run of his own to close the gap once again. But the Wildcats were unable to come up with the stop they desperately needed, as the Clippers scored four straight of their own to regain a six-point lead with 1:04 to play.
Ponzo-Meek hit a wide open three-pointer following a missed free throw on a one-and-one, bringing the Wildcats to within 86-84 in the final 10 seconds. The Clippers were able to hit their first free throw on their ensuing possession, and then foul Ponzo-Meek with under three seconds to play without allowing him to get a game tying attempt off.
Ponzo-Meek led all scorers with 36 points, while also adding 14 rebounds and five assists. Dill-Pettiford came off the bench to score 14 points on 6-of-10 shooting while Medlin also poured in 10 points and seven rebounds off the bench. Sam Sanders was the final Wildcat in double figures, scoring 12 points in his first start of the season.
The Wildcats take to the road for their next two CACC games, starting with a road game at Philadelphia on Tuesday night. The men follow the women and tip-off at approximately 8:00 p.m.