Halftime Lead Dissipates as Wilmington Men’s Basketball Falls, 84-71, in Season Opener against Merrimack
MBB: Merrimack 84 - Wilmington 71
Friday, November 8, 2013 - Waltham, Mass.
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Senior Herb Dennis led the Wildcats with 24 points with four assists in the season opener against Merrimack on Friday. Copyright 2013; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Paul Patton.
A halftime lead wasn’t enough in the 2013-14 season opener for the Wilmington University men’s basketball team, as Merrimack came back to score the 84-71 victory to kick off the Bentley Tip-Off on Friday night at the Dana Center.
Post play off the bench by Merrimack (1-0 overall) helped turn the game around in the second half after the Wildcats (0-1 overall) grabbed a 31-27 lead at the halftime break.
Even as the Warriors held a 15 point lead with 11:31 to play in the first half, the Wildcats bounced back and went on an 11-0 run before taking over the lead on a pair of free-throws by Herb Dennis with 4:31 remaining in the in the first half. In all, the Wildcats used a 20-4 run to turn the score around and take a 26-25 lead in the contest.
Nearing the end of the first half, freshman Paul Moore converted his first collegiate bucket with 4:15 remaining in the half to put the Wildcats in front by three points, 28-25. The lead grew to four points at the end of the first half as sophomore Shai Henry put in a layup with 57 seconds left, finishing off the scoring in the first 20 minutes.
It didn’t take long for the Warriors to turn the score around in the beginning of the second half, however, as they scored the first seven points of the second stanza, taking the lead for good in the game with a pair of free throws by JT Strickland at the 18:46 mark. The lead grew to as many as 12 for Merrimack at 54-42 with 11:04 remaining in regulation before the Wildcats made their second half run.
Shrinking the lead to as few as four points, the Wildcats run fell short inside the final five minutes as the Warriors were able to hold off Wilmington to pick up the victory in the season opener for both teams. Dennis hit a three pointer to close the gap to 63-59 with 5:54 remaining in regulation, but the Warriors quickly extended the lead back out to nine points with a layup and a three-pointer with 5:25 to play.
That would be as close as the Wildcats would get the rest of the way.
Dennis led the Wildcats with a game high 24 points to begin his senior season, shooting 9-for-17 from the floor including 4-of-6 from the foul line. Junior transfer Valentino Thompson was the only other Wildcat to tally double digit in points, putting 14 points on the board on 5-of-10 shooting from the floor and 4-of-5 shooting from the foul line, while adding a game high seven assists in his Wildcat debut. Sophomore transfer Ta’Vaune Griffin led the Wildcats with 10 rebounds off the bench in his Wildcat debut.
Wilmington remains in Waltham, Mass. for one more contest to begin the 2013-14 campaign. Wilmington will square off against host Bentley to conclude the Bentley Tip-Off Tournament on Saturday night. The opening tip is scheduled to be thrown at 8 p.m.