Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team fell in their conference opener to the Penn State-Behrend Lions on Wednesday evening by the score of 71-60.
The first 5 minute of the game were dominated by senior and captain Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew). Jon scored 6 of the first 8 points for the Spartans and gave them an 8-6 lead over the Lions. After Gemerek's last basket with 15:27 remaining in the first half, D'Youville's offense would go cold for the next 5 minutes. In that time, Behrend scored 11 unanswered points and took a 17-8 lead.
Penn State would extend their lead to 27-15 with 6:44 to go in the first, but a Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) hit a three-pointer and pulled the team to back within 9. The Lions would hold a steady 10-12 point lead throughout the remainder of the half. Down by 12 with under a minute to go, Clarke scored a layup for D'Youville and the two teams went into half with the Spartans trailing 39-29.
Picking up where he left off in the first half, Clarke began to show why he is the team's leading scorer this season early on in the second half. Marcus opened up D'Youville's scoring with a three-pointer, cutting the Spartan's deficit to 9. Following a Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Oneida, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) layup, Clarke then hit a jumper and another three to get D'Youville to within 6 of the Lion's lead. Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) then made back-to-back layups and the Spartans were then trailing 47-43.
The Spartans hung around for some time but before long the Lions would pull away from their opponents. Behrend took a 63-48 lead with 8:22 left in the game, but the Lions would go cold from the field for the next 4 minutes and wouldn't record a point. However, the Spartans also went cold and could not capitalize on the opportunity. D'Youville would come to within 9 points of the Behrend lead, but they could not catch the Lions as Penn State would win the game by the final of 71-60.
"We made some defensive mistakes that really hurt us," said Head Coach Earl Schunk. "It seemed like every time we over rotated or over helped they would make us pay with a three."
Marcus Clarke had a fantastic all-around game on the night he was honored for scoring his 1,000th point last season. Clarke was second on the team with 13 points, but had a team high 7 assists and added 6 rebounds. Jon Gemerek led the team with 14 points in the game and tied for the team high in rebounds with 7. Freshman Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) also had 7 rebounds to go with 3 assists and 3 points.
Coming off the bench, Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown) scored 10 points along with grabbing 3 rebounds. Freshman Jake Socha had 10 points and 5 rebounds.
Moving forward to their first road conference game this weekend, Coach Schunk will look to build off the team's second half of their game Wednesday against last year's number one team in the AMCC.
"I liked the way we competed in the second half," said Schunk. "We need to tighten things up for Saturday.
The men will play at Pitt.-Greensburg on Saturday, December 5th at 1pm for their first conference road game of the season.