Milestone must wait for Philadelphia U. coach

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Philadelphia University women's basketball coach Tom Shirley.

It took the top team in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference to spoil a potential milestone for Philadelphia University's Tom Shirley.

Entering a CACC showdown Saturday against Bloomfield with 699 career wins, the coach saw his women's basketball team lose, 63-58, to visiting Bloomfield in a CACC matchup between unbeaten division leaders.

Both Philadelphia U. and Bloomfield entered the game 12-0 in CACC play, with Bloomfield on top of the North Division and the Rams leading the South.

Shirley is now 699-326 in 35 seasons of coaching, the first eight at DeSales and the last 27 at Philadelphia U, where he is 550-253.

The Rams, 16-6 overall, will look to get their coach the milestone win next Saturday at Dominican.

"I really didn't think about whether I was going to get to 700 because I have been doing this 35 years and I know I am going to win another game at some point," said Shirley who is also the school's athletic director.

The game was played before a full house and was streamed live by ESPN3.

"I thought it was the perfect day with the national stage, a packed house, to win it. But we knew this was going to be difficult against such a talented team," said Shirley, whose Rams had a 10-game win streak snapped.

Philadelphia U. led by as many as seven points in the fourth quarter before Bloomfield (17-5) stormed back. The Cougars took the lead for good when senior guard Ariel Wilson hit her second straight three- pointer with 3 minutes, 8 seconds left to give Bloomfield a 55-52 advantage.

Wilson scored a game-high 18 points.

The Rams were led by senior guard Bria Young, a Prep Charter graduate, who had 16 points.

"Coach never mentioned it to us, but in the back of our heads we felt pressure because we wanted to win it for him," Young said of the milestone.

Both Shirley and Young said they hope to get another chance at Bloomfield in the conference tournament. By then the coach should be well past 700 wins.

mnarducci@phillynews.com

@sjnard