Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville men's basketball team narrowly lost on Wednesday evening to the visiting Pitt.-Bradford Panthers by the final score of 72-69.
Bradford began the game by taking control with a 10-2 lead after just about 3:30 of play. They continued to hold that lead over the Spartans with a 24-8 lead with just over 11 minutes left in the half before they then opened up a 29-11 lead about two minutes later.
Through the second part of the first half, D'Youville began to improve on both ends of the court. They outscored Bradford in the final nine minutes 14-13 thanks to points from their underclassmen. Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia Mumford) led the way with three points, but five different players scored for the Spartans as the team trailed at halftime 42-25.
The Spartan's size really became a factor to begin to start the second half. The team's first 13 points of the half were scored by VanAuken, Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Oneida, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) and Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic), all players that stand 6-4 or taller. D'Youville trimmed their deficit to 13 after a Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) made three but it went back up to 15 just under 0:30 later.
As the game clock ticked to under 10 minutes remaining, the Spartans really came to life. Juan Miguel Rosales (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Village School) scored four straight points to make it a 10-point game with 8:02 left. Those four points sparked a D'Youville run that included five points from Bayani Salinas (Antioch, CA/Antioch) and an additional two points from Rosales that left the Spartans trailing 61-58 with 6:25 on the clock.
With just over four minutes left in the game, Bradford was back out to a 10-point lead at 68-58, but the Spartans were not out of it yet. Four made three throws from Socha and Rosales plus a VanDuluitgaarden layup made it a four-point game with 1:40 to go. Three free throws from VanDuluitgaarden made it a three-point game again with 0:40 remaining. The Spartans got the ball back with less than 0:30 left in regulation and a chance to tie it, but the Panthers played a strong defensive possession at the very end and didn't allow a good shot to get off as they held on for the win over the Spartans by the final score of 72-69.
"We shot ourselves in the foot in the first half," said head coach Earl Schunk. "We couldn't do anything right and were lucky to be 'only' down 17 at halftime.
I'd love to say I had some inspirational halftime speech to fire them up, but in reality we just played better defense and executed better of offense. I was proud of the way the guys hung in there; it was just so disappointing for it to end the way it did. We need to bring our second half game with us the rest of the season."
VanDuluitgaarden led the team in scoring with 13 points in the game, adding eight rebounds. Socha added 12 points while Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) led the team with both three assists and nine rebounds. Playing another outstanding defensive game was Darrius Hartzog (Rochester, NY/Wilson Magnet) with a team high three steals and six rebounds with five points.
Rosales recorded team highs with nine points and seven rebounds off the bench. Both Salinas and Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) each added five points, with Kunelius scoring six.
The next game for the men comes this Saturday, February 4 as they host the Penn State-Altoona Lions at 3pm.