NEWARK, Del. – Sophomore forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) scored a career-high 26 points to help the Philadelphia University men's basketball team defeat Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) foe Wilmington (Del.) 90-85 Wednesday night.
Philadelphia extends its winning streak to four and improves to 11-4 overall. The Rams remain in a tie for first in the CACC's southern division with a 5-1 conference record.
Johnson broke his previous career-high of 25 points, which came in a win over Chestnut Hill on Dec. 4, 2013, with a 8-of-17 shooting effort, 5-of-8 from 3-point range.
Junior guard Nick Schlitzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville) drained four 3's on his way to a 24-point night. Schlitzer also grabbed seven rebounds and had seven assists. Sophomore forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Reedemer) connected on 10 of his 14 shot attempts to finish with 21 points. Alexis led the team in rebounding with eight boards.
The Rams shot a blistering 66.7 percent (20-of-30) from the field, 69.2 percent (9-of-13) from behind the arc, in the opening half. Philadelphia finished the game shooting 53.3 percent (32-of-60) overall, 52.4 percent (11-of-21) from three.
Wilmington (6-9, 2-4 CACC) got a game-high 27 points from Herbert Dennis. Valentino Thompson added 26 points and six rebounds. The Wildcats turned in a 52.2 percent (35-of-67) shooting performance.
Philadelphia opened the game by hitting four of its first five shots, 3-of-3 from 3-point land, to jump out to an 11-4 lead 2:49 into the contest. Christian put back a missed Alexis free throw at the 12:23 mark of the first half to cap an 8-0 run and give Philadelphia its first double-digit lead (19-8).
Wilmington was able to close the gap to six on six separate occasions over the duration of the first half. Leading 39-33, Philadelphia outscored the home team 10-2 over a 1:38 span, capped by a Schlitzer trey, to take a half-high 49-35 lead with 1:43 left. The Rams led at the half 51-38.
Back-to-back baskets from Thompson trimmed the Philadelphia lead to single digits (55-47) with 16:49 to play. Philadelphia answered with a 12-4 run, which included five points from Johnson, to move ahead by a game-high 16 points (67-51) at the 13:20 mark.
The Rams remained ahead by double-digits until the 2:24 mark when Shaq Monroe-Gaskins hit a layup to make the score 82-74. With the Philadelphia lead back up to 10 (84-74), the Wildcats would go on a 7-1 surge, capped by a Thompson 3-pointer, to close within four (85-81) with 44 seconds left.
Gibbs wouldn't allow Wilmington to get any closer by going 4-for-4 at the free throw line down the stretch.
Philadelphia heads to Holy Family for a rescheduled CACC southern division clash on Saturday, Jan. 11 at 1 p.m.