WATERBURY, Conn. - - For just the second time in program history, the Wilmington University men's basketball team is moving on to the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference Tournament Semifinals, as they defeated Post on the road, 76-69, in the First Round on Tuesday night at the Drubner Center.
With the win, the South Division's No. 3 seeded Wildcats (11-18) advance to play the South Division's No. 1 seed and overall No. 1 seed Jefferson in the semifinals on Saturday on the campus of USciences. Jefferson needed a last second, step-back three-pointer at the buzzer to survive the North Division No. 4 seed Felician.
It is the first time since the 2014-15 team to win a game in the postseason, as that team won two games in the CACC Tournament before falling to then named Philadelphia University in the Championship. It is the fourth straight trip to the postseason for the Wildcats, and fifth in the last six years overall.
Danny Walsh was at it again on Tuesday, scoring 20 or more points for the third straight game, tying a career high with 28 points on 10-of-15 shooting. He hit 6-of-9 from beyond the three-point arc, and hit two key free throws down the stretch. He also dished out four assists in the win.
On Tuesday, the Wildcats jumped out to a large lead, but then hung on for dear life as the Eagles (19-10) attempted the late game comeback on their home floor. The Wildcats led by as many as 19 points early in the second half before Post made their late game push.
Down 11-10 with 13:25 left in the half, the Wildcats went on a 14-2 run, started by a Danny Walsh three-pointer and capped by a Kam Cooper layup to go up 24-13 with 9:10 to play. The Eagles closed the gap to six points with 3:15 left, but Walsh hit another three, sparking a 7-0 run to end the half, taking a 40-27 lead into the break.
Post scored the first bucket of the second half, but Taalib Holloman laid one in, then Walsh and Jordan Harding hit back-to-back three-pointers, giving the Wildcats their largest lead of the game, 48-29, with 17:17 left in regulation.
Kam Cooper hit a pair from the foul line to keep a 16-point lead, 59-43, with 9:11 left, but then the Wildcats hit a drought. Post went on a 12-0 run to get back into the contest with 6:08 to play, before Jermaine Head ended the run with a layup, 61-55, with 5:49 left.
Kam Cooper put in a layup for back-to-back buckets and Head again answered an Eagles bucket with a layup of his own and the Wildcats were holding onto a 65-57 lead with 3:55 to play. Jermaine Head then came down and hit a three-pointer to regain an 11-point edge, but was flagged with a technical for taunting.
The Eagles hit both of their technical free throws, and then hit a three-pointer for a quick five points, climbing back to within six, 68-62. Post cut it closer with a layup, and then hit one of two from the foul line, 70-67, with 57 seconds left. Using as much clock as he could, Danny Walsh found himself in the paint and hit a tough floater with 32 seconds to play, taking a 72-67 lead. The Eagles missed their ensuing three-pointer and the Wildcats came away with the rebound. Then the eighth ranked free-throw shooting team in all of NCAA DII hit all four from the charity stripe to close out the contest.
Kam Cooper came off the bench to score 14 points and grab nine rebounds while Jermaine Head finished with 13 points, nine rebounds, four assists, and three steals. Jordan Harding added 12 points as well for the Wildcats.
Tipoff for the semifinals is set for 5:00 p.m. in Philadelphia on Saturday.