PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (March 7, 2015) – Derek Johnson pumped in 22 points and Peter Alexis tallied a double-double with 18 points and 13 rebounds to lead Philadelphia University to its second-straight Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC) Men’s Basketball Championship on Saturday night at the Gallagher Center.
The Rams, seeded third from the South Division improved to 23-7 overall with a 77-68 triumph over South No. 4 seed Wilmington University, which had strung together a pair of major upsets to advance to the finals. The Wildcats capped their season at 11-19.
Philadelphia earned the CACC’s automatic bid to the NCAA Division II Tournament East Regional, which will be held next weekend at a site to be determined. The NCAA will officially announce its tournament field on Sunday night at 10:30 p.m. at NCAA.com(.)
Nick Schlitzer chipped in 15 points, and combined with his heroic 36 points in a win over top-seeded University of the Sciences in Friday’s semifinals, was named the most valuable player of the 2015 CACC Championship. Johnson and Alexis joined Schlitzer in being named to the all-tournament team.
Tyaire Ponzo-Meek netted a team-best 18 points to pace WilmU’s furious charge at pulling off a potential improbable championship. The Wildcats’ run to the finals began one week ago with a thrilling 69-67 triumph over the North’s No. 1 seed Dominican College in the quarterfinals, and continued with a victory over South No. 2 seed Holy Family University in the semifinals on Friday. Kevin Ohen, Tyrik Gass and Shai Henry each followed with 14 points.
Philadelphia U. shot 42 percent from the floor, including a solid 40 percent from beyond the arc. Johnson was 4-of-7 from downtown. The Rams did an outstanding job of taking care of the basketball by turning it over just three times, while forcing WilmU into 10 miscues.
PhilaU led by as many as 11 points on multiple occasions in the second half, including at 58-47 on a jumper from Jordan DiCicco with 8:37 to go.
However, Wilmington countered and outscored the Rams, 15-6, to pull within a pair at 64-62 with 3:42 left. Henry had five points late in the run, including a deep three ball.
Alexis hammered home a dunk at the other end and Johnson rained in a triple moments later to stem WilmU’s rally. PhilaU then iced the championship with free throws in the waning seconds.
The game was tight throughout the early moments as Wilmington took a 20-16 edge with 11:45 left until halftime following a jumper from Ponzo-Meek. Philadelphia countered with five points to take a one-point advantage, and eventually built a 39-32 lead at the intermission.
Ponzo-Meek and Ohen also landed on the all-tournament, and were joined on the squad by Caldwell University’s Michael Balkovic, University of the Sciences’ Garret Kerr and Holy Family University’s Reggie Charles.
The Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference is an NCAA Division II Conference composed of 14 institutions in Connecticut, Delaware, New Jersey, New York, and Pennsylvania. The member institutions are Bloomfield College, Caldwell University, Chestnut Hill College, Concordia (N.Y.) College, Dominican (N.Y.) College, Felician College, Georgian Court University, Goldey-Beacom College, Holy Family University, Nyack College, Philadelphia University, Post University of Waterbury, University of the Sciences, and Wilmington University.
2015 CACC MEN’S BASKETBALL ALL-TOURNAMENT TEAM
Nick Schlitzer (Philadelphia U.)
Peter Alexis (Philadelphia U.)
Derek Johnson (Philadelphia U.)
Tyaire Ponzo-Meek (Wilmington)
Kevin Ohen (Wilmington)
Michael Balkovic (Caldwell)
Garret Kerr (USciences)
Reggie Charles (Holy Family)
MVP – Nick Schlitzer (Philadelphia U.)