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In a game of two completely different halves, the Wilmington University women’s basketball team held on for a 61-60 victory over Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference foe Chestnut Hill, giving Tiffany Silver her first collegiate head coaching victory on Tuesday night at the WU Athletics Complex.
After going into the halftime break leading by 17, the Wildcats (1-8, 1-3 CACC) used a much needed three-pointer by Danielle Thomas to regain the lead for good with 1:56 remaining on the scoreboard. Chestnut Hill (1-7, 0-3 CACC) fought all the way back to take their only lead of the second half with 3:59 to play after the big halftime deficit.
What always seemed to happen to the Wildcats in the first eight games of the regular season, Wilmington used the energy of playing in front of its home crowd in the new WU Athletics Complex for the first time to play a role reversal in the first half.
With the game tied at 20-20 with 9:28 remaining before the halftime break, the Wildcats went on a 17-0 run, shooting 5-for-10 from the floor, including a three pointer from Cari Callaway, and going a perfect 4-for-4 from the foul line during the run.
Freshman Tenicia Spence started the run with a jumper at the 11:05 mark of the first half before classmate Tiaja Harrold laid one in off a feed from Lauren Brown for a four point lead with 8:03 remaining in the half. Senior Danielle Thomas then converted four straight free throws for the Wildcats, extending the lead to 28-20 with 4:25 to play after her second set from the charity stripe.
Callaway continued the Wildcats’ run with a layup before hitting the only three-point attempt of the rally from the right side, making it 13 straight points for the home team with 3:20 showing on the scoreboard. The sophomore scored her seventh straight point during the run one minute later, hitting a jumper to make it 35-20 with two minutes to play. Spence capped the run, and the scoring for the half, with a steal and a fastbreak layup at the other end, allowing the Wildcats to head into the locker room with a 37-20 lead.
The lead grew to as many as 20 in the second half before the Griffins made a run of their own to get back into the ball game. Trailing 44-24 with 17:45 left in regulation, the visitors rattled off 15 straight points over the next 5:33 of game action before the Wildcats finally found the bottom of the next again with a layup from Thomas.
Chestnut Hill continued to whittle the lead down to when it eventually took its first lead of the game since the 11:39 mark of the first half with a three-point from Latoya Laing with 3:59 showing on the clock.
Thomas missed her first attempt from three to regain the lead, but after Laing couldn’t convert her jumper to extend the Griffin lead, Thomas nailed a three from the right wing with less than two minutes remaining to give the Wildcats a two point advantage
Although Thomas’ three gave the Wildcats the lead for good, Kathryn Franklin’s three-point play may have been the nail in the coffin for the Griffins. Franklin slipped a screen and Spence found her rolling to the basket as she hit the layup and was fouled. She stepped to the line and converted the foul shot to give the Wildcats a 57-53 lead with 52 seconds to play.
Spence stepped up and hit the final four foul shots for the Wildcats to keep it at a four point lead with seven seconds remaining before a last second three-pointer from Lila Jones went through as the buzzer sounded to settle at the final one point victory.
Four players finished in double figures for the Wildcats, led by freshman Tenicia Spence’s 14 points. Callaway and Thomas scored 12 points each off the bench for Silver, while Tiaja Harrold scored 11 points before rolling her ankle when landing after making her third three-pointer of the game.
The win over the Griffins was the first for the Wildcats since a 72-59 win on the road during the 2009-10 season. Wilmington is now 7-4 all-time against Chestnut Hill.
Wilmington will look to keep its home court momentum on Thursday as the team squares off against Washington Adventist at the WU Athletics Complex. The Wildcats will look for back-to-back wins for the first time since they won four straight from February 20-28, 2010. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.
Published: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 - Newark, Del.