Defense at the Rim Allows Wilmington University Men’s Basketball to Hang On, 58-51, Over Chestnut Hill
MBB: Wilmington 58 - Chestnut Hill 51
Tuesday, January 28, 2014 - Newark, Del.
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Junior Valentino Thompson tied a program record by going 10-for-10 from the foul line, scoring 20 points while adding four rebounds, four assists, and four steals against Chestnut Hill. Copyright 2014; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Althea Davidson.
Sophomore Ta'Vaune Griffin grabbed 10 rebounds and collected four of the team's seven blocked shots against Chestnut Hill. Copyright 2014; Wilmington University. All rights reserved. Photo by Althea Davidson.
Free throws and defense at the rim down the stretch allowed the Wilmington University men’s basketball team to walk away from a Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference match, 58-51, over Chestnut Hill on Tuesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
Making up for an off shooting night, the Wildcats (8-13, 4-8 CACC) shot 18-of-22 from the free throw line, hitting all five inside the final minute to earn the victory. Chestnut Hill (6-12, 4-7 CACC) erased a nine point halftime deficit and pulled to within two points as late as 2:21 left in regulation but couldn’t get over the hump.
With the win, the Wildcats swept the season series from the Griffins for the first time in program history. The Wildcats also defeated the Griffins in Philadelphia, 63-62, earlier this season.
Playing in front of a sea of fans in all-black clad, the Wildcats took control of the game in the final five minutes of the first half, turning a tied game into a nine point advantage at the half. The audience was one of the biggest of the year for the Wildcats, who handed out black t-shirts in honor of tonight’s BLACKOUT.
“The team, as well as myself, would like to thank all the fans who came out and supported us in our Blackout Game,” head coach Mike Gallagher said. “It was great to see other student-athletes, family, friends, and administrators turn out in all-black and help us earn the win tonight. I’d also like to thank the Student Life Department who were very crucial in pulling this whole thing together.”
Sophomore Ta’Vaune Griffin started a 13-4 run in the final five minutes of the first half, breaking a 16-16 tie. Junior Tyrik Gass converted an old fashioned three-point play in the run while Valentino Thompson capped it off with a pair of free throws with 10 seconds remaining.
After the break, the Griffins hung around and had the deficit down to four at 35-31 with 13:51 remaining in regulation after a layup from Christian Walck. The score hovered in favor of the Wildcats between four and eight points for the 10 minutes before the Griffins made one final push. Trailing by seven, Chestnut Hill scored the next five points, converting an old fashioned three-point play and getting two single free throws to pull within 51-49 with 2:21 showing on the clock.
With the score remaining the same inside a minute, senior Dusan Kojic drove to the basket, was fouled but laid one off the glass and in. He hit the ensuing free throw to put the Wildcats ahead 54-49 with only 25 seconds to play. Thompson hit all four of his free throws in the final 10 seconds, icing the game and giving the Wildcats the seven point victory.
Thompson finished with a game high 20 points, going a perfect 10-of-10 from the free throw line. He tied Ed Freeman’s single game record for most free throws made without a miss in a single game in the Wildcats’ NCAA era. He also added four rebounds, four assists, and four steals in the win.
Herb Dennis was the only other Wildcat to reach double digits, scoring 10 points on 5-of-11 shooting. Griffin grabbed a team high 10 rebounds, scoring eight points while protecting the rim with four blocked shots.
Both teams struggled from the floor on Tuesday night, as the Wildcats shot 38.5 percent from the floor but missed all 13 chances from beyond the three-point arc. They were saved by hitting 18 of their 22 foul shots.
Chestnut Hill shot 39.6 percent from the floor, but only went 1-of-9 from deep. The Griffins hit 8-of-13 from the charity stripe for the game.
The Wildcats remain at the WU Athletics Complex for one more contest this week, as they host CACC North Division foe Concordia for another CACC doubleheader on Saturday. With Goldey-Beacom’s win on Tuesday night, the Wildcats remain two games behind the Lightning for the fourth and final CACC South Division playoff position with seven games to play. The Wildcats will look to move up the standings on Saturday, starting with the tip at 3 p.m.