NEWARK, Del. - - The Wilmington University men's basketball team couldn't hold onto a second half lead on Tuesday night, as Chestnut Hill came back to steal a 79-77 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division victory at the WU Athletics Complex.
Despite the loss, the Wildcats (14-11, 9-7 CACC) locked a CACC Tournament berth for the second year in a row as Georgian Court lost to Holy Family tonight as well. The seeding in the South Division is yet to be determined with three games to play.
A slow started had the Wildcats behind the entire first half, as the Griffins (5-18, 4-12 CACC) shot 54.8 percent from the floor, including 7-of-13 (52.8 percent) from three-point territory in the first half. They led by as many as 13 points, 41-28, with 2:15 left before the break. The Wildcats scored the final eight points of the first half to minimize the damage, but still went into the locker room trailing, 41-36.
The run continued out of the halftime break, as Jermaine Head hit the opening three-pointer of the second half followed by a fastbreak layup from Miles Gillette to tie the game, 41-41. The 13-0 run finally stopped with a Griffin three-pointer, as they went back in front, 50-41, with a 9-0 run of their own.
Still down seven, 53-46, the Wildcats rattled off the next 15 points to take a 61-53 lead with 8:50 left in regulation. The home team took their largest lead of the game, 66-57, with a Head steal and fast break layup by Shawn Church with 7:08 showing on the clock. But they wouldn't be able to hold off the Griffins.
An old fashioned three-point play brought the Griffins back to within 68-67 with 4:19 left and they eventually took the lead on a Demetrius Isaac jumper, 71-70, with 3:15 to play. They went up by as many as three points late, but Head came down and put in a three-pointer of his home to tie the game at 75 with 1:18 left.
Isaac was up to the task again with a jumper, but Danny Walsh calmly hit two free throws at the other end to tie it again at 77. But a foul off the ball with the Wildcats on defense put Liban Awl to the line, where he hit a pair with 34 seconds to play.
The Wildcats had three cracks at tying the game in the final moments, but Head and Walsh missed jumpers before a timeout was called. Church had a good look at three from the corner out of the timeout, but he was off the mark as well. Gillette's last ditch effort didn't find the bottom of the net either as the horn sounded.
The offense was spread out amongst three Wildcats, led by Head's game high 26 points, seven rebounds, eight assists, and two steals. Church finished with 21 points, seven rebounds, and five steals, while Gillette added 17 points and a game high 14 rebounds.
The Wildcats will look to rebound with another home game on Saturday, as they host Post at the WU Athletics Complex in a cross-divisional contest. The men are set to start at approximately 3:00 p.m.