Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville men's basketball team won their first conference game of the season on Wednesday evening, defeating the Hilbert Hawks by the final score of 97-88.
D'Youville opened up the game red-hot from behind the arc with back-to-back threes from Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) and Grant Beyer (Williamsville, NY/St. Joe's). The offense continued to roll as Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) scored five consecutive points as the Spartans led 13-6 through 5:27 minutes of play in the game.
Over the next six minutes of play, the Spartans would outscore the Hawks 16-7 to take a commanding 29-13 advantage. Following a pair of Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) free throws, the Spartans took over a 18-point lead over Hilbert. Including Camel's free throws, D'Youville had five different players score in five possessions that was capped off by a Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) jumper as the Spartans led 43-18 with 4:29 to go in the half.
Hilbert began to pick up their game in the final four minutes of the half, outscoring the Spartans 10-5. After 20 minutes, D'Youville had commanding lead over Hilbert at 48-28.
To open up the second half, the Spartans maintained the wide margin over the Hawks. After five minutes of play, Hilbert began to slowly chip away at the D'Youville lead. They trailed by 13 at the 12:20 mark and then 11 at the 11:04 mark. However, the Spartans would again step on the gas and bring their lead back up to 18 after a Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) made layup.
With 6:32 to go in the game, D'Youville remained ahead by a substantial margin at 19. Just over a minute later, Hilbert brough their deficit down to 12 at 83-71 and then 10 another minute later at 85-75. The Hawks came back to trail by eight with 3:50 to go in regulation, but the Spartans were able to hold on late. Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) hit a pair of late free throws to clinch the game, defeating Hilbert 97-88.
"This was a great win for us, especially against a good team in our conference opener," said head coach Earl Schunk. "The first twenty minutes was as good an exhibition of basketball as we have played during our time here, on both ends of the floor. We were tenacious on defense and executed well on offense. Pretty much everyone who played had major contributions. In the second half and having a big lead, we walked that fine line between being patient and tentative. When we were patient, we extended our lead; when we got tentative, they caught up. I think we learned a lot from that experience. We also saw exactly how good we can be if we remain focused."
All nine players that played had key roles in the win. VanDuluitgaarden led the way with a career high 32 points and led the team with nine rebounds and five assists. He went 13-20 from the field and 5-7 from the line. The best shooter all game from D'Youville was sophomore Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark). Sharp scored 18 points as he went 6-7 from three and was crucial in the team holding off Hilbert's late run in the second quarter. His big-shot ability lifted the team and helped power them to the victory.
Three additional Spartan scored in double figures with all nine players scoring. Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport), Nwaekeke, and Camel each scored a pair of points in the game. Heard tallied 10 points with eight rebounds and five assists while VanAuken scored 13 with eight rebounds and four assists. Beyer added 11 points as well. Off the bench, Socha scored seven points with six rebounds.
The men had an outstanding all-around game. The team shot 53.1% from the field and 57.1% from three. D'Youville recorded 25 assists compared to 11 from Hilbert. On the defensive end, the Spartans limited Hilbert to 38.4% shooting from the field, 27.3% shooting from three and D'Youville out rebounded Hilbert 49-34.
The next game for the men will come this Saturday, December 1 as they play their first road conference game at Franciscan. Game time is at 3:00pm.