A slow first half loomed large for the Wilmington University men's basketball team as it dropped a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference contest at Holy Family, 72-59, on New Year's Eve at the Campus Center.
The loss snapped a two-game winning streak in the CACC for the Wildcats (3-10, 3-4 CACC) while the Tigers (10-3, 5-0 CACC) remain atop the conference standings to end the 2014 portion of the season.
A Kevin Ohen three-pointer with 12:40 left in the first half game the Wildcats a 13-10 lead but the Tigers responded with back-to-back three-pointers of their own to take the lead, 16-13, with 11:20 before the break. The Tigers would not relinquish the lead for the rest of the contest.
Leading 20-19, the Tigers rattled off nine straight points to take their first double digit lead, 29-19, of the contest. Holy Family's Derrick Stewart hit a three-pointer with exactly a minute to play, giving the home team its largest lead of the half, 37-24, the same score the two would take into the halftime break.
The Tigers took a 14-point lead with 10:04 remaining in regulation before the Wildcats made their move. A fastbreak layup by Sam Sanders completed a 7-0 run to cut the deficit in half, 53-46 with 8:57 to play before a pair of free throws by Shai Henry had the deficit at six points with 6:48 showing on the scoreboard.
Tyaire Ponzo-Meek hit a jumper in the paint to slim the margin to just four points with 6:18 to play while a layup by Ta'Vaune Griffin again put the Wildcats to within four, 58-54, with just over five-minutes to play in regulation.
But the Tigers scored six straight points to open the lead back out to 10 points with 4:11 to play and that was more than enough for the Tigers to hold off the Wildcats.
The Wildcats shot 41.2 percent in the second half to get back into the game but a tough 27.3 percent start (9-for-33) put the team behind at the halftime break, making the team work uphill all afternoon. The Wildcats finished shooting 34.3 percent from the floor and just 3-for-11 from three-point territory.
The Tigers hit seven three-points while hitting 40.3 percent from the floor and forced the Wildcats to commit an uncommon 18 turnovers.
Henry shot 5-of-7 from the floor and 4-of-5 from the foul line to score 14 points off the bench for the Wildcats while Ponzo-Meek added 14 points on 6-of-16 shooting. Valentino Thompson scored 10 points to round out the double-digit scorers for the Wildcats. Ohen led the Wildcats with eight rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass. Ponzo-Meek also grabbed seven rebounds and dished out a team high four assists.
The Wildcats begin the 2015 portion of their schedule on Saturday as they remain in CACC action when they head to Bloomfield. The doubleheader begins with the women's game at 1 p.m. followed by the men at approximately 3 p.m.