NEWARK, Del. - - Danny Walsh's three-pointer touched every part of the rim before falling out with seconds left in the game as Jefferson escaped with an 87-82 Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference South Division victory over the Wilmington University men's basketball team on Wednesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
The Wildcats (4-15, 1-8 CACC) again turned things around in the second half after a slow start. The second half saw 12 lead changes and eight tie scores as the Wildcats once again saw themselves in a tight battle down the stretch.
The Rams' (12-4, 8-1 CACC) Deondre Bourne hit three consecutive three-pointers on Rams' possessions in the final 2:25, the final with 54 seconds left to break a 78-78 tie. The Wildcats missed on the ensuing possession, but the Rams only made one of two from the foul line with 29 seconds to play, keeping the Wildcats alive.
Nalik Veasley made a bucket to get it to within 84-82 with 12 seconds left and a missed free throw at the other end kept hopes alive once again for the Wildcats. But Danny Walsh's straight away three circled the whole rim before falling out, essentially ending the contest.
The Wildcats never led in the first half but kept it close throughout the first 10 minutes. Tied at 17-17, the Rams scored eight straight to lead 25-17 with 7:23 on the clock. The Wildcats got it back to within 29-26, but then the Rams used another run to open the lead out to as many as 10 points as late as 1:05 before the break. But then Caleb Matthews hit a three followed by a Randy Rickards fast break layup and the Wildcats were within five, 41-36, going into the locker room.
The Wildcats scored eight of the first 11 points to start the second half, forcing 55th year head coach Herb Magee into a timeout. Randy Rickards put in a layup to get within 47-46 and then Justin Thomas gave the Wildcats their first lead of the night with a layup with 14:39 to play.
The teams went on the seesaw for the next five minutes, as Thomas again put in a layup to tie the game, 57-57. The Rams tried to pull away, but could only take as large as a four-point lead before the Wildcats fought back. Down four points, Justin Thomas scored the next seven Wildcat points, hitting a step back jumper to give the Wildcats a 69-68 lead with 4:43 to play, forcing another timeout.
The teams once again went on the seesaw, with Walsh giving the Wildcats their final lead, 73-72, with a driving layup. That's when Bourne hit his first three-pointer for the Rams, with his third breaking a 78-78 tie in the final minute.
Justin Thomas scored 13 of his team-high 23 in the second half while he added five rebounds and five assists as well. Randy Rickards finished with 17 points and five rebounds while Danny Walsh added 17 points and five assists as well. Caleb Matthews chipped in with 11 points.
Deondre Bourne scored 19 of his game high 26 points in the second half for the Rams.
The Wildcats will look to snap their seven-game losing streak on Saturday when they make up a game against Chestnut Hill at the WU Athletics Complex. The opening tip is scheduled for 2:00 p.m.