A jumper with 13:30 remaining in regulation pushed Wilmington University junior Tenicia Spence over the 1,000-point plateau but the Wildcats dropped its 2014-15 season opener, 91-46, at Saint Anselm on Friday night in Stoutenburgh Gym.
An 18-5 run over the final 5:54 of the first half gave the Wildcats (0-1) a 20-point halftime deficit and Saint Anselm (1-0) held as large as a 47-point lead in both team's season openers.
Needing 12 points coming into her junior season, Spence (Baltimore, Md./Western) scored five points in the first half before scoring seven in a 2:20 span in the second to reach the mark. She finished with a game high 23 points, becoming the fourth player in Wilmington's NCAA era (2004-05) to cross the 1,000 career point plateau.
Spence got the scoring started in the 2014-15 season, hitting her first three-pointer of the new campaign with 19:19 remaining in the first half to give the Wildcats a quick 3-0 lead. Unfortunately, it would be the only lead of the game for the Wildcats, as Saint Anselm tied the game with a three of its own with 17:23 to play and took the lead with a fast break layup with 15:31 to play.
Trailing 17-8, sophomore Jocelyn Rodriguez hit a jumper to spark a 7-3 run for the Wildcats, as Rodriguez followed with a three-pointer on the next trip down the floor as well. Spence put home a layup with 6:02 remaining in the half to cut the deficit to 20-15. Saint Anselm then went on their 18-5 run to close out the first half of play.
A Rodriguez layup and a free throw from freshman Ebonee Dixon cut the Wildcats' deficit to 42-21 with 18:02 to play in regulation, but that would be as close as the visitors would get in the contest, falling in their season opener.
Spence led all scorers with 23 points while Rodriguez also finished in double digits with 11. Playing in their first games as a Wildcat, freshman Carin Essex-Arline and junior Katara Pressley led the team with six rebounds each. Four of Essex-Arline's came on the offensive side of the ball. Rodriguez led also led the team with four assists and added five rebounds off the bench for the Wildcats.
Saint Anselm was led by a pair of double-doubles as Raquel Johnson finished with 13 points and a game high 16 rebounds while Caitlyn Abela finished with 11 points and 14 rebounds. Abela tied with teammates Candace Andrews and Nancy Stablein with a team high 14 points.
The Wildcats continue the Conference Challenge event in opening the 2014-15 season in Manchester, N.H., on Saturday as they head over to Southern New Hampshire for another bout with an NE-10 team. Tip-off is scheduled for 1:30 p.m. on Saturday.