Bradford, PA - The D'Youville Men's Basketball Team play a tight game down to the wire Wednesday evening against the Pitt.-Bradford Panthers, ultimately losing by the final score of 76-73.
Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew) and Bayani Salinas (Antioch, CA/Antioch) started off the scoring for the Spartans. Gemerek opened up the game with a made jump shot, followed by back-to-back threes from Salinas. Gemerek then scored on a layup to give D'Youville a 10-6 lead 4:44 into the game. Both teams showed a lot of fight with the game being tied at 19 half way through the first half. Julian Reed (Cheektowaga, NY/Union-Endicott) scored three straight baskets for the Spartans to give D'Youville a 4 point lead with 6:21 to go in the half.
D'Youville began to pull away after a Matt Insely (Wellsville, NY/Wellsville) three-pointer. An and-one opportunity was converted by Gemerek, giving D'Youville an 8 point lead with under 2 minutes to go in the half. The Panthers pulled back within 4 to close out the half, trailing 32-36 to the Spartans at halftime.
Pitt.-Bradford came out and tied the game at 36 by scoring 2 straight baskets in the first 2 minutes of the half. Over the next 4 minutes, Reed and Gemerek would score all 11 of D'Youville's points to give them a 47-38 lead. Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) drilled a three-pointer to give the visitors a 10 point lead with 13:27 remaining in the game. Over the next several minutes, the Panthers would begin to chip away at the lead to bring the game within a point.
With 7:47 remaining in the game, Pitt.-Bradford tied and then regained the lead on a pair of made free throws. Matt Insley tied the game back up with a three-pointer, but the home team answered right back and captured the lead once again. Heading into the final 5 minutes of the contest, the Spartans trailed by 2 points. Four points from Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) tied the game up at 67 with 2:51 remaining in the game. The Panthers would regain the lead and D'Youville would get clutch free throws from Gemerek and Clarke to get pull the game within 1, but it wasn't enough as Pitt.-Bradford pulled out the win by the final score of 76-73.
"It was a tough loss for us because I felt we had control of the game in the second half when we were up double figures, then we let it slip" said fourth year Head Coach Earl Schunk. "Once the game got close, it came down to execution at the end and they did a better job executing at the end."
Jon Gemerek led the team with 20 points and tied for a team high with 3 assists. Julian Reed recorded 17 points to go with his team high 7 rebounds and 3 blocks. Bayani Salinas and Matt Insely both had 8 points as starters. Salinas grabbed 6 rebounds, second on the team, while Insley tossed in 3 rebounds and 3 assists. Conor Gallivan (Elma, NY/Iroquios) added 2 assists in his 6th straight start.
Marcus Clarke and Zach Blask tied for the team high in points off the bench with 7. Both players also recorded 3 assists, with Clarke pulling in 2 rebounds and Blask had a rebounds and an assist. Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) had 6 points on 2 three-pointers. Anthony Malone (Erie, PA/Mercyhurst Prep) had 2 assists and a rebound. Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown) added a steal.
Coach Schunk felt that the team's ball security wasn't the best when they needed it to be. "I thought we got a little careless and against a good team you can't do that and expect to win," said Schunk.
Heading into their final 2 games of the season, Schunk knows the team needs to regain their focus and finish strong.
"We have no time for moping, we have two more very important games left in our fight for the playoffs."
D'Youville will head to Penn State-Altoona on Saturday, February 14th to play the Lions at 3pm. Earlier this season, the Spartans defeated the Lions by the score of 72-63.