Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team suffered their first conference loss of the season on Saturday afternoon to the undefeated La Roche Redhawks by the score of 82-70 in the AMCC Game of the Week.
Both teams came out firing, combining for 18 points through five minutes. La Roche led 11-7 before Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) and Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) scored back-to-back baskets to tie the game at 11-11. Two Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) baskets put the Spartans out front and a Darrell jumper made it a four-point lead at 17-15. Following a Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) free throw, the Spartans went up by five with just over 10 minutes to go in the half.
La Roche would tie the game at 24-24, then taking the lead away from D'Youville by scoring nine consecutive points. The scoring would begin to slow down, but the teams would remain within two baskets of each other until the Redhawks went up 35-28 with 6:01 to go in the half. A Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark) hit a three that made it a four-point game, but La Roche would increase their lead to seven just a few minutes later.
In the final minute of the half, Grant Beyer (Williamsville, NY/St. Joe's) made a layup to make it a four-point game as the Spartans trailed 44-40.
The Spartans came out and immediately tied the game with a Darrell free throw and a Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) and-one. La Roche would answer right away, but the Spartans would not go away as they took over the lead for the first time in the half on a Heard three to make the score 50-48. Over the next several minutes, the two teams would trade leads and with 9:52 left in the game, the Spartans would lead 59-57.
Following a Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) bucket with 9:23 to go, the teams would go scoreless for the next minute and a half. The Redhawks would then pull ahead to lead by three with 5:18 remaining on the clock, but they would then start to pull away from the host Spartans.
Trailing by six with less than three to go, D'Youville would surrender the nine of the next 12 points as La Roche surged late to take their first meeting of the season by the final score of 82-70.
"Obviously the outcome wasn't what we wanted; having said that, we played the defending champs to a stand-off for the first 37 minutes," said head coach Earl Schunk. "To their credit, they closed the game out and did the things that championship teams do to get the win. We learned a lot from this game. Our goal is to be ready to close out big games like that as we continue conference play."
Heard led the team in scoring Saturday afternoon with 18 points, followed by Beyer with 10. VanDuluitgaarden, Socha, and Nwaekeke each scored eight in the game with Darrell scoring seven. Sharp added six points while Camel scored five. Jagdeep Drumgoole (Rochester, NY/Early College) played an outstanding defensive game for the men in key minutes.
Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) was second on the team with five rebounds as Nwaekeke led the way with eight. Heard and Darrell each had a team high three assists.
The men will next travel out west for a pair of games. They will take on Whitworth in Spokane, WA on Monday, December 10 at 10:00pm and then face Lewis & Clark at 10:00pm on Wednesday, December 12. Both game times are Eastern Time start times.