Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville men's basketball team suffered their first loss of the new year as their comeback attempt fell short Tuesday evening, losing the the Houghton Highlanders 78-76.
D'Youville was out to an early 8-2 lead over Houghton. The Highlanders pulled to within three with just over six minutes elapsed on the clock, but the Spartans pulled back out to a 20-12 lead after a Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia Mumford) made layup. However, Houghton would rally over the next several minutes and scored 12 unanswered points to take a 24-20 lead.
The Spartans struggled from the field during the second portion of the first half. Trailing 30-25 with just under seven minutes remaining in the half, Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) helped bring the team back. Blask scored five consecutive points to cut the deficit to one point at 33-32. Zach then dished out back-to-back assists in the final 2:48 to give the Spartans the lead back at 37-33. The second of those assists went to Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Oneida, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill), who drilled a three and made a layup to close out the half, sending D'Youville into the locker-room with a 39-35 lead.
Opening the second half, VanDuluitgaarden picked up where he left off in the first, scoring an and-one to open play. Consecutive Blask threes kept D'Youville out in front of the Highlanders until Houghton regained the lead at 49-48 with just over five minutes off the game clock. The Spartan offense went cold over the next six minutes as they were outscored 8-0.
With 4:26 to go in the game, Houghton got out to their largest lead of the contest at 15 points. Despite being down, D'Youville was not out. Freshman Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) went on a scoring tear, scoring 19 consecutive points for the Spartans and trimmed the deficit to three at 76-73 with 0:22 to go in the game. Following a Houghton basket to send the Highlanders up 77-73, Heard made another three with 0:00.8 remaining on the clock to bring the game to 77-76. However, Houghton made a free throw with the same amount of time remaining to ice the game, defeating the Spartans by the final score of 78-76.
"It was a typical first game back," said head coach Earl Schunk. "We were wildly inconsistent, having some great runs and also some periods where we couldn't score for a long period. I'm proud of the way the guys came back; it's tough to spot a good team like Houghton a 13-point lead and make it all the way back in a 5:00 period."
Heard recorded a career and team high 22 points in the victory, all in the second half. Blask was the second leading scorer with 18 points, also adding a team leading seven assists. VanDuluitgaarden scored 16 points. Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) and VanAuken each had a team high seven rebounds in the game.
Off the bench, Darrius Hartzog (Rochester, NY/Wilson Magnet) scored five points while Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) scored four points. Kunelius tied Juan Miguel Rosales (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Village School) with four rebounds off the bench.
Moving forward, Schunk knows that his team needs to be more aggressive in going to the basket to help get the other team in foul trouble.
"We need to get to the rim more. We have been outshot from the line in both our last two losses. That needs to change."
The next game for the men comes tomorrow on Wednesday, January 4th at 8pm at Alfred State.