Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team capped off the home portion of their schedule on Sunday afternoon by defeating the Penn State-Altoona Lions by the final score of score of 85-82.
D'Youville's seniors fittingly got the offense rolling in the first half on senior day. Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) and Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew) scored the first 10 points of the game for the Spartans, giving them a 10-4 lead. Junior Matt Insley (Wellsville, NY/Wellsville) then hit back-to-back threes, giving he team a 10-point lead.
Senior Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown) then took over the scoring lead with seven straight points, giving D'Youville a 23-11 lead with 10:54 left in the first half. Six minutes later, the Altoona cut the lead to six. The Spartans then turned on the offense and took a 37-21 lead with 3:27 left. The Lions would close the gap slightly before the half ended, trailing D'Youville 41-29 going into the lockerroom.
To begin the second half, Clarke once again got the team going on offense. He scored 10 of the team's first 12 points as D'Youville took a 53-44 lead. Altoona pulled to within five points of the Spartans lead with 10:43 remaining in the game.
Over the next several minutes, the Lions would hang around the Spartans, trailing by three at 7:36. Sophomore Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) hit five three-pointers in just over six minutes and the Spartans extended their lead back out to nine with 6:07 left in the game.
D'Youville was up by 12 with 3:34 but Altoona would work their way back into the game and trailed by six with 1:09 remaining in the game. Clarke hit two big free throws with 0:29 remaining, taking an 85-79 lead. The Lions hit a three with 0:22 to go and then took possession with 0:16 left on the clock. Looking to get a shot off with 0:02 to go, senior Conor Gallivan (Elma, NY/Iroquois) knocked the ball loose with Gemerek picking the ball up and outletting the ball to Clarke to clinch the game, giving D'Youville the 85-82 win.
"It was a great win for our seniors," said Head Coach Earl Schunk. "They've been great representatives of our school both on and off the court."
Senior Marcus Clarke led the team in scoring with 21 points in the game. He also tied for team lead with five rebounds, adding two steals. Off the bench, Zach Blask added 18 points, all off of three-pointers. Nate Sweetman added 10 points, and Bayani Salinas (Antioch, CA/Antioch) led the team with five assists. Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) led the team with five rebounds off the bench.
All five D'Youville starters recorded at least two rebounds and scored three points. All four seniors combined for 41 points, 11 rebounds five assists and five steals. Coach Schunk gave going to a smaller lineup to start the game the credit for starting the game fast.
"It was definitely different starting five guards, but we played with a lot of energy," said Schunk. "To Altoona's credit, they fought their way back and kept it close at the end. We were able to make enough good plays to hang on."
Schunk will look for his team to close out the season strong with two games remaining, one non-conference and the other conference.
"We still have two games to go, and we want to continue the momentum and finish the season on a streak."
D'Youville will head to Houghton on Tuesday, February 16th to play the Highlanders at 7pm.