BLOOMFIELD, N.J. - - The second-half comeback fell just short for the Wilmington University men's basketball team, as Bloomfield escaped the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference cross-divisional contest, 79-74, on Saturday afternoon inside The Gym.
The Bears (6-11, 4-4 CACC) took as large as a 15-point lead late in the first half, while Caleb Matthews tried to pull the Wildcats all the way back, scoring 14 of his season-high 19 points in the second half. The Wildcats (4-13, 1-6 CACC) go to within a single point with 8:43 to play, and two points as late as 18 second left, but the Bears were able to hang on down the stretch.
The Bears went on an 8-2 run early in the first half to take an 18-9 lead with 13:29 to play before the break. A three-pointer with 9:49 showing on the clock gave the Bears their first double-digit lead, 27-16, and took their largest lead of the game, 37-22, with 6:38 to play. Wilmington was able to close the game to 43-, 34, using a 12-8 run to close the gap, as Danny Walsh capped a 6-0 sprint by the Wildcats to finish the half.
Bloomfield led by 14 points with 17:01 to play before the Wildcats started to chip away at the deficit. Caleb Matthews hit two from the foul line and then hit a three-pointer on the next Wilmington possession to get within 57-51. Jordan Perkins laid one in to cut the lead to four points with 10:33 left in regulation before two more Matthews' free throws made it 62-60 with 7:33 to play.
The Bears were able to regain momentum, taking the lead back out to nine points, 74-64, with 3:27 showing on the clock, but the Wildcats made one last run. Justin Thomas started an 8-0 with a layup before Nalik Veasley laid one in, and Thomas brought the Wildcats to within 74-70 with 58 seconds to play. The Bears missed a jumper and Randy Rickards responded with a layup, and the Wildcats were within two points with 18 seconds left. The Bears only hit one from the free-throw line, but picked up a big offensive rebound on the second attempt and hit a jumper to make it 77-72. Matthews made it 77-74 with a layup, but the Wildcats ran out of time on the comeback bid.
Matthews shot 6-of-11 from the floor, including 3-for-7 for deep, for his 19 points. Randy Rickards finished with 19 points and a team-high nine rebounds while Danny Walsh and Justin Thomas added 13 points each.
The Bears shot 58.5 percent from the floor for the game, hitting 5-of-12 from deep, while the Wildcats shot 46 percent for the game.
The Wildcats have a quick turnaround as they head to Georgian Court for a makeup game on Monday night. The game in Lakewood, New Jersey has been moved up to 6:00 p.m. Georgian Court has a NO SPECTATOR POLICY in effect as well, but live stats and a broadcast will be available.