Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville Men's Basketball Team took a big step towards their goal of the post-season on Saturday afternoon by defeating the Mount Aloysius Mounties 95-83 and taking control of the sixth and final seed in the AMCC Playoffs with 3 games remaining.
Mount Alyosius took a quick 5-0 lead just over 2 minutes into the game. D'Youville then came to life, outscoring the Mounties 14-2 over the next 7 minutes. Bayani Salinas (Antioch, CA/Antioch) and Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) got the offense going with Salinas scoring 5 points and Clarke with 4. The Mounties tied the game at 18 with 6:35 left in the first half, but Julian Reed (Cheektowaga, NY/Union-Endicott) answered on the next possession to give D'Youville a 2 point lead.
The Mounties held the lead or a share of it from 5:10-1:24 in the first until a three-pointer from one the Spartan's sharp shooters, Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville). Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew) scored on a layup with :19 seconds left to send D'Youville into the locker-room with a 36-34 lead.
The visiting Mounties came out right away in the second half to tie the game. Gemerek answered with a three-pointer, followed by a Conor Gallivan (Elma, NY/Iroquois) layup and two Gemerek free throws. Leading 43-36, D'Youville's next 5 baskets were scored by the freshmen tandem of Salinas and Blask. Salinas scored three straight layups, including a steal and breakway layup.
Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown) capped off an opening 28-8 offensive output with two free throws, giving the Spartans a 58-42 lead with 12:44 left in the game. Julian Reed brought the house down and blew the game open with a two-handed alley-oop slam from Jon Gemerek. With 5:45 left in the game, the Spartans led by 20 and would never look back. Gene Smith (Buffalo, NY/CSAT) knocked down 6 straight free throws followed by a James Cortez (Bitburg, Germany/Bitburg) free throw to seal the 95-83 win for D'Youville.
"Our guys came up big today, especially in the second half," said fourth year Head Coach Earl Schunk. "It seems strange to say our defense was key in a 96-83 game but our defense in the last 20 minutes set up our offense."
A pair of freshmen led the way on the score for D'Youville Saturday afternoon. Zach Blask led the team with 20 points. Blask also had 3 rebounds, 3 assists, 2 rebounds and 1 block. Bayani Salinas had a career night, scoring his season best 19 points. Adding 6 rebounds and 3 steals, Salinas shot 8-9 from the field for his career game.
Julian Reed recorded yet another double-double with 12 points and a team high 15 rebounds. Reed also had 3 steals, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Jon Gemerek and Marcus Clarke were also in double figures for the Spartans. Gemerek had 15 points to go with his 6 rebounds and 4 assists while Clarke had 4 assists, 2 rebounds and 2 steals.
Coach Schunk saw how well the team's opponent could play on offense and realized that his team needed to play a strong defensive game.
"We have a lot of respect for the Mount Aloysius program and how explosive they can be, so we knew we had to get some stops defensively and get out in transition to score some easy baskets."
Matt Insley (Wellsville, NY/Wellsville) had 4 points, 2 assists and a rebound. Conor Gallivan had 5 points while Nate Sweetman, James Cortez and Gene Smith all scored points off the bench. Anthony Malone (Erie, PA/Mercyhurst Prep), Adam Ibrahim (New Port Richey/Ridgewood), Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) and Kyle Violanti (Hamburg, NY/Hamburg) also saw playing time for the Spartans.
"The best part about this team is we have a lot of depth and play 11 in our rotation," said Coach Schunk. "I think that helped us today because we were a little fresher at the end." All 14 players who dressed for the Spartans saw action on Saturday, with 5 scoring in double figures and 10 different players scoring.
Heading into the final 3 games of the season, D'Youville will have to play hard, but have had played well against their 3 remaining opponents, with victories over two of those teams.
"While this win was huge, we still have work to do to get into the playoffs," said Schunk.
The men will travel to Pitt.-Bradford on Wednesday, February 11th to play the Bobcats at 8pm.