PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - - A 10-point halftime lead was nearly in jeopardy for the Wilmington University men's basketball team at Holy Family on Wednesday night, but the Wildcats hung on for the 60-56 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division victory inside the Campus Center Gym.
The Tigers (2-16, 1-10 CACC) got to within two points with possession to either tie the game or take the lead on multiple occasions late in the second half, but the Wildcats (12-8, 7-4 CACC) were able to come up with key stops down the stretch to secure the victory.
The Wildcats jumped out to an early lead in the first half, gaining as large as a 13-point lead right before the half. The visitors found themselves down 11-9 with 14:28 showing on the clock, but Miles Gillette sparked an 8-0 spurt with a layup en route to a 13-1 run to take their first double-digit lead of the night, 22-12. Jermaine Head hit a jumper following a steal by Gillette for the 10-point lead with 9:52 left in the half.
Nick Richards continued his torrid start to the game with a layup for the 33-22 lead with 4:58 before the break, and gave the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 38-25, with a free throw with 1:27 to play. The Tigers scored five straight but the senior hit two more from the line for the final points of the half, sending the Wildcats into the break leading, 40-30.
Gillette finished off a steal by Richards with a layup, putting the Wildcats ahead, 45-34, with 15:00 left in regulation. But the Wildcats wouldn't score again for another 4:53 of game-time.
During that span, the Tigers clawed back into the contest, scoring eight straight to get to within 45-42. Gillette ended the draught with two from the line with 10:07 to play.
The Tigers continued to fight in the second half, as a pair of three-pointers brought the home team to as close as 54-52 with 6:03 showing on the clock. Richards tipped-in an offensive rebound but the Tigers got to within 56-54 again with a pair of free throws. Down 58-56 with 1:47 and possession, the Tigers turned the ball over on back-to-back possessions, ruining a chance to either tie the game or take the lead. A lead changing three-pointer was also off the mark for the Tigers with 56 seconds left.
Again with the ball with 11 seconds left and trailing by two, an illegal screen by the Tigers gave the ball back to the Wildcats and Head was able to sink two from the line to ice the game, 60-56.
Richards paced the team with his third double-double of the year, scoring 22 first half points en route to a game high 24 points and 14 rebounds. Gillette chipped I with 24 points and six rebounds while Head was the final Wildcat in double figures with 11 points.
The Wildcats shot 50 percent from the floor (15-of-30) in the first half, but just 29.2 percent in the second half to finish 22-of-54 (40.7 percent) for the game, including just 4-of-22 from beyond the three-point arc.
Wilmington will take its three-game winning streak into its next contest, as the Wildcats return home on Saturday to square off against CACC North Division foe Felician. The opening tip is set for 3:00 p.m. at the WU Athletics Complex.