PHILADELPHIA, Pa. - - Danny Walsh found Miles Gillette wide open under the basket for the buzzer-beater as the Wilmington University men's basketball team survived at Chestnut Hill, 67-65, in a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division slugfest on Wednesday night inside Sorgenti Arena.
In a difference of halves, the Wildcats (8-6, 3-2 CACC) busted out to an 18-point halftime lead, but needed a late game comeback after finding themselves down three points with two minutes left in regulation.
The Griffins (1-12, 0-6 CACC) tied the game at 65 with two free throws with six seconds left, but that was just enough time for Walsh. The Wildcats decided to not call a timeout after the made free throws as Gillette took the ball out of bounds with just over five seconds showing on the clock. He got the ball into Walsh around the free throw line as Gillette took off down the floor.
The Griffins tried to surround the ball carrier as he crossed mid court. With the clock winding down, instead of heaving a long three-pointer Walsh calmly found Gillette under the basket uncovered. In one smooth motion, Gillette (who was only 3-of-13 from the floor in the game) received the pass and scooped in the layup just before the buzzer sounded.
The final two-minute comeback didn't seem like it was going to be needed when the teams took to the locker rooms for the halftime break. Redshirt sophomore Jermaine Head took over the first half, scoring 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting, hitting 5-of-6 from three-point territory. Walsh chipped in with 13 points, hitting 3-of-6 from deep to finish 5-of-8 from the floor. Head hit a three-pointer with 18 seconds left in the first half, and then long distance trey at the buzzer to give the Wildcats a 47-29 halftime lead. They led by as many as 19 points in the first half.
But as the teams switched sides, the other basket wasn't as kind to the Wildcats, as they failed to scored a point until 3:25 into the second half. The Wildcats' first five points of the half came form the foul line, and they didn't hit a shot form the floor until a Shawn Church three-pointer with 6:35 left in regulation. Church's three-point put the Wildcats ahead, 55-50, as the Griffins climbed back into the contest.
The Griffins continued to charge and eventually tied the game, 60-60, on a dunk with 3:02 remaining, taking a 63-60 lead with 1:59 to play. Walsh played hero prior to the end as well, hitting a three-pointer with a hand in his face to tie the game at 1:46 left.
The Wildcats got the ball back with 1:13 to play and Gillette put back his own blocked shot for the 65-63 lead with 48 seconds left. Out a timeout, the Griffins missed a three-pointer and the Wildcats had a chance to ice the game. But Church missed the three-pointer and Gillette was called for an over the back call on the rebound, setting up the final moments of the game.
Head finished with 29 points, four rebounds, four assists, and five steals, while Walsh added 16 points, three rebounds, three assists, and three steals. Church was the final Wildcat in double digits with 12 points, adding four rebounds, four assists, and two steals. Gillette scored eight points but grabbed a game high 13 rebounds.
The Griffins outscored the Wildcats, 36-20, in the second half as the Wildcats only shot 6-of-30 from the field. The sixth and final bucket proved to be the game-winner.
The Wildcats look to make it two in a row when they return home on Saturday afternoon. They square off against Georgian Court in another CACC South Division battle at the WU Athletics Complex starting at 3 p.m.