Sizzling second half lifts Wilmington over Thomas More
Quakers roll to 96-83 win
January 18, 2012
R.J. Leppert (at left) looks for a friendly face during Wilmington's win over Thomas More.
Wilmington College used 59-percent shooting in the second half to pull away from Thomas More and hand the Saints a 96-83 setback at Fred Raizk Arena Wednesday night.
The Quakers are now 8-7 on the season while Thomas More drops to 10-7.
“I thought tonight was a really good example of 10 guys playing together,” Wilmington head coach K.C. Hunt said. “We had more extra passes for wide-open shots than we’ve had all season. I like how this team is coming together and really starting to trust each other. It sure makes for pretty basketball, and that’s what we saw tonight in the second half.”
Wilmington’s second-half explosion was preceded by a virtual dead-heat of a first half that ended with Wilmington up, 35-34, thanks to a Brandon Candella (West Chester/Lakota West) jumper at the buzzer.
Things stayed cozy until Malcolm Heard II (Wilmington) thunder-dunked an alley-oop from Candella that gave Wilmington a 60-54 lead at 7:56. Heard then converted a steal into a 3-point play to extend the Quakers’ lead to 63-54.
“That dunk was a set out of a timeout. We’ve been trying to hit that home run for a couple games. It was good to see the kids execute like that, especially in the second half,” Hunt said. “Plays like that dunk and 3-point play really carried us on to the win.”
Wilmington pushed the lead to 10 when Dwight Johnson (Dayton/Jefferson) hit from downtown at 6:35. When Antonio Bowman (Columbus/Whetstone) scored 2 of his game-high 26 points with 1:50 to play, Wilmington’s lead had grown to 87-70.
In the second half, Wilmington made 16 of 27 shots from the field and converted on 25 of 30 free throw opportunities. Thomas More actually out-shot Wilmington for the game, hitting 53 percent to the Quakers’ 52 percent.
“Thomas More is a very talented team, and with all the things they throw at you, you have to be solid,” Hunt said. “We challenged our kids to not play into their frenetic pace, but to make easy plays, make easy passes and be strong with the ball. For the most part, we did that tonight.”
Bowman’s game epitomized Wilmington’s complete performance. The senior guard came off the bench to not only put 26 points in the book, but also hand out four assists and collect three rebounds.
Heard, who is now shooting 67.4 percent from the field, made 9 of 10 shots and finished with 21 points. Candella scored 18 points and dished out game-high eight assists. As a team, the Quakers picked up assists on 19 of 30 made shots from the field.
Ben Vonderhaar (Cincinnati/Colerain) and Johnson added eight and five points, respectively.
Wilmington will return to Ohio Athletic Conference action at Heidelberg Saturday afternoon.
“This was a really good test for us and a good preparation game for a very similar-talented Heidelberg team,” Hunt said. “It was a good tune-up for us, but now it’s back to the grind with nine games left in the league. Let’s see who’s going to be mentally tough enough and physically strong enough to win this thing.”