PHILADELPHIA – For the second straight season, the Philadelphia University men's basketball team sits atop the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) after defeating Wilmington (Del.) 77-68 in the CACC Tournament championship game Saturday night the Gallagher Center.
With the win, Philadelphia improves to 24-7 overall and earns the conference's automatic bid into the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament. It will be the Rams' 34th appearance in the Tournament, the 28th time under Hall of Fame head coach Herb Magee.
The Rams will find out where they will go for the NCAA Division II East Region Tournament and who their first round opponent will be with the field is announced on Sunday, March 8 at 10:30 p.m. on www.ncaa.com.
Wilmington ends its season at 11-20.
Junior forward Derek Johnson (Conshohocken, Pa./Atlantic Christian) was the Rams' leading scorer with 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting. Senior guard Nick Schlitzer (Pottsville, Pa./Pottsville) contributed 15 points and seven rebounds. Junior forward Peter Alexis (Wilkes-Barre, Pa./Holy Redeemer) added 18 points and 13 rebounds for his 16th double double of the season.
Schlitzer was named the CACC Tournament MVP, while Johnson and Alexis were tabbed for the All-CACC Tournament Team.
Junior guard Andre Gibbs (Smyrna, Del./Smyrna) 11 points.
The upset-minded Wildcats controlled the game early on, scoring the first six points of the contest. Philadelphia used a 9-2 run to get itself going and take a 25-22 advantage on an Alexis layup at the 8:42 mark.
The Rams took a half-high seven point lead with 24 seconds on the clock when Gibbs made one of two free throw attempts to make the score 39-32.
Philadelphia started the second half with four of the five points to take its first double-digit advantage of the game on an Alexis bucket with 3:14 gone. The lead ballooned to 11 (54-43) when Alexis capped a 4-0 spurt with a jumper at the 9:48 mark.
The Wildcats had one big run left in them, outscoring the Rams 12-3 over a 4:10 stretch, to close within 64-62. Tyaire Ponzo-Meek and Shai Henry recorded five points each.
Philadelphia's defense clamped down on Wilmington, forcing the Wildcats to go 0-of-6 from the floor over the final 3:42 to earn the win. During that time, Philadelphia shot 6-of-8 from the free throw line and 2-of-2 from the field.
Ponzo-Meek led four Wildcats in double figure scoring with 18 points. Kevin Ohen, Tyrik Gass, and Henry chipped in with 14 points each.
The Rams shot 42.2 percent (27-of-64) from the floor, while the Wildcats hit 40.4 percent (23-of-57) of their shots. Philadelphia committed just three turnovers, while forcing 10.