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NEWARK, Del. - - The Wilmington University men's basketball team led wire-to-wire to win its third straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game on Saturday, defeating Caldwell, 76-68, at the WU Athletics Complex.
The win propels the Wildcats into sole possession of fourth place in the South Division with a 4-8 conference record. The last time the Wildcats won three games in a row was January 16 to January 26, 2019, with two of those wins coming in overtime. The Wildcats are now 7-15 overall on the season.
A hot start allowed the Wildcats to jump out to a large lead and play in front the entire game. The Cougars (7-12, 3-8 CACC) closed the gap and eventually tied the game midway through the fourth quarter, but never led in the contest.
The Wildcats didn't miss a field goal attempt in the first 8:03 of the game, starting 9-for-9 and taking their largest lead of the game, 18-4, with 13:56 showing on the clock. The Wildcats ninth field game made it 20-7 and the Wildcats held a 20-10 lead before they missed a shot.
Caldwell continued to claw its way back all game long, getting the deficit to within three, 22-19 with 8:26 left in the half. Caleb Matthews and Kameron Cooper hit back-to-back three-pointers and then Randy Rickards threw down a dunk and the Wildcats were leading by 11 once again with 6:22 to play in the half.
A three-pointer inside a minute left allowed the Cougars to only be down 34-28 at the halftime break.
The Cougars continued to fight, starting the half on a 13-7 run to tie the game, 41-41, with 13:55 to play in regulation. But Caleb Matthews came down and hit a three-pointer on the ensuing possession and the Wildcats never gave up the lead again.
Caldwell closed to within 51-47 but then three free throws and a Taalib Holloman layup gave the Wildcats a nine-point lead, 56-47, with 7:14 left. The Cougars again came to within three-points on a couple occasions, but the Wildcats always had an answer to keep them at an arm's length.
Despite only going 19-of-29 from the line for the game, the Wildcats finished strong, making their last 10-of-12 to seal the game.
All eight players that saw action for the Wildcats scored on Saturday, led by Caleb Matthews' 17 points. Randy Rickards scored 16 points while adding five rebounds, four assists, and two blocks. Danny Walsh scored 14 points to go with four rebounds and five assists while Justin Thomas finished with 11 points and a team high six rebounds. Ethan Tarte also scored in double figures with 10 points.
The Wildcats take their three-game winning streak to Felician with a short turnaround. The make-up game is scheduled for Monday night in Rutherford, New Jersey, with the men's game set with an 8:00 p.m. tip-off.