Copyright 2016; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. File photo of Tyaire Ponzo-Meek against Holy Family last season, taken by Frank Stallworth.
BROOKVILLE, N.Y. - - The Wilmington University men's basketball team climbed out of a nine-point deficit early in the second half to come back and defeat LIU Post, 83-77, to close out the LIU Post Tip-Off Tournament on Sunday afternoon in the Pratt Recreation Center.
The Pioneers (0-2) held a five-point lead at the halftime break, and distanced the lead out to as many as nine points early in the second half. But the Wildcats eventually took the lead with 5:30 left in regulation and held on for the comeback victory. It is the first time in the program's NCAA era (2004-05 season) that the Wildcats have started the season 2-0.
The host Pioneers held their largest lead of the game late in the first half, jumping out to a 35-22 lead with a little over three minutes to play before the break. But an Omari Dill-Pettiford tip-in sparked an 11-3 spurt for the Wildcat to close out the half, cutting the deficit to 38-33 with a Tyaire Ponzo-Meek jumper with 22 seconds remaining.
The halftime break came at the wrong time for the Wildcats, as the momentum they created just before the stoppage did not come back onto the court with them in the second half. The Pioneer lead grew to as large as nine points on a Jemal Mosley three-pointer, 48-39, with 15:21 to play.
A Dill-Pettiford three-pointer followed by a Masner Beauplan layup brought the Wildcats to within 53-52, before Drew Johnson hit a pair of free throws to tie the game at 56-56 with 10:43 left in regulation. But the Wildcats couldn't get over the hump just yet, as the Pioneers regained a 63-58 lead with 7:32 left.
Ponzo-Meek hit a three-pointer followed by a pair from the foul line from Beauplan to tie the game at 63. That was five points of an 8-0 run for the Wildcats, as Paul Medlin put back a missed three-pointer, and converted the ensuing foul shot, for the team's first lead since 2-0.
The Pioneers cut the deficit to a single point on three occasions, but the Wildcats responded each time, the last with a Nick Richards layup with 1:54 left to put the visitors up 72-69.
Out of a timeout, the Pioneers missed a game-tying three-pointer and an offensive put back dunk attempt before Medlin grabbed a defensive rebound. An LIU Post technical foul with 49 seconds remaining put Ponzo-Meek on the line and he calmly sank both for the 74-69 lead.
LIU Post hit a three-pointer with 37 seconds left but the Wildcats went 7-of-10 from the foul line the rest of the way to secure the victory.
Ponzo-Meek and Richards each scored a team high 20 points and two steals while Ponzo-Meek finished with a team high nine rebounds. Beauplan came off the bench to score 14 points while Dill-Pettiford finished with 11 points as a reserve as well. Tajee Almon collected four blocked shots while Medlin backed him up with three denials as well.