February 2, 2014 at 6:59 AM
CALDWELL, N.J. – The Caldwell College men’s basketball team lost a close Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference game against Philadelphia University, 62-61 Saturday afternoon in the George R. Newman Center. The Cougars drop to 12-7 overall and 8-4 in the conference with the loss, while the Rams improve to 16-5, 10-2 CACC.
With Philadelphia leading 60-52 with 4:38 remaining in the second half, Caldwell scored the next seven points to make it a one-point game, 60-59 with 1:22 on the clock. After a pair of free throws from Andre Gibbs, junior forward Michael Balkovic (Neptune, NJ / St. John Vianney) hit two free throws to make the score 62-61 with 27 seconds left.
The Cougars sent Gibbs to the line on the next possession, and Gibbs missed the front end of a one-and-one, giving Caldwell the last shot. With time winding down, sophomore forward Terik Bridgeman (Harlem, NY / Nia Prep) drove to the basket from the left and put up a shot that did not drop. Junior guard Kevin Walker (Bayonne, NJ / St. Peter’s Prep) grabbed the rebound and threw up a desperation shot, but it was off the mark as the horn sounded.
The Rams led by as many as nine points in the second half before the Cougars tied the score at 26-26 with an 11-2 run, buoyed by seven points from sophomore guard Dawan Lighty (Paterson, NJ / Kennedy). Philadelphia closed out the half with a 7-2 run to take a 33-28 lead into halftime. Nick Schlitzer hit four threes en route to 16 first-half points, as the Rams shot 54.5 percent from the field compared to 35.7 percent for Caldwell.
The lead grew to as many as nine points in the second half before the Cougars used a three from Balkovic to spark a 7-0 run that made the score 49-47 Rams with 11:33 to play. Philadelphia responded by out-scoring Caldwell 11-5 over the next seven minutes to extend the lead to eight, setting up the exciting finish. The Cougars held the Rams to just nine field goals on 36 percent shooting in the second half while getting to the free throw line 18 times after halftime to get back in the game. Caldwell also committed a season-low three turnovers in the game.
Bridgeman tallied 18 points, five rebounds and two blocks for the Cougars
Walker finished with 12 points, five boards, three assists and two steals
Balkovic scored 11 points
Junior guard Wyatt Polk (Haddonfield, NJ / Haddonfield) grabbed a team-best seven rebounds to go with nine points
- Schlitzer ended up shooting 5-of-6 from beyond the arc and scored a game-high 26 points for Philadelphia
Caldwell plays a CACC game at Felician College on Tuesday, Feb. 5, beginning at 8 p.m. in Rutherford.