Altoona, PA – The D'Youville men's basketball team came away with a huge win on Saturday afternoon, defeating the host Penn State-Altoona Lions in overtime by the final score of 97-95 and clinching a berth in the AMCC playoffs.
Altoona came out of the gate and took it to D'Youville. The Lions led 12-3 after three minutes and continued to hold that lead at 14-5 through 4:34 of play. Following an Altoona three that pushed their lead to 12, the Spartans answered right back with a Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) three to bring the deficit back to nine. The offense would start gaining some traction for D'Youville with a Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark) three followed by a Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) layup that made it a four-point game.
After the Lions were able to bring their lead back up to double-digits, the Spartans were able to knock it back down to five following another Sharp three. A made Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) jumper would put the Spartans within a basket at 29-26 with 7:59 remaining in the first half.
The all-Devon backcourt of Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) and Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) took over for D'Youville in the final minutes of the half. They combined for five consecutive points to tie the game at 33-33. Camel would then hit back-to-back threes on consecutive possessions, sending D'Youville up 39-35. The Lions would tie the game up at 42, but Camel and Nwaekeke would score the final four points of the half to send the Spartans into halftime leading 46-42.
Just four minutes into the second half, Altoona tied the game at 48. D'Youville would retake the lead in the next possession and then the Spartans would go up by four with a Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) three as the men led 52-48. The hot shooting from the outside continued for the Spartans as Nwaekeke and Sharp each hit threes to build a 58-50 advantage for the Spartans with 12:46 to go in regulation.
Over the next several minutes, Altoona chipped away at the D'Youville lead and trailed 68-66 following a made Lion three. With 6:16 to go in regulation, the Lions would tie the game at 75 with the Spartans going back up by three with just under three minutes to go. For the first time in the half, the Lions would take the lead at 83-82 with 0:38 remaining on the clock. Altoona would then go ahead by three at 85-82.
With less than 0:20 to go, Nwaekeke came up with a huge offensive board and kicked the ball out to Sharp who drilled the game-tying three with 0:10 to go. Altoona had one last chance to win the game in regulation, but an outstanding defensive effort from D'Youville stopped the Lions and sent the game to overtime.
VanAuken hit a big three that gave D'Youville the lead at 88-87 following a Lion basket early in overtime. From that point on, VanDuluitgaarden and Darrell would take over for the Spartans. VanDuluitgaarden scored the final seven points in OT for the men while Darrell grabbed two offensive rebounds with two assists in the final minutes of the game to go with great ball movement from the men. To clinch the game, VanDuluitgaarden threw down a dunk in the final seconds of the game as D'Youville went on to win the game 97-95.
"I'm really happy for this team," said head coach Earl Schunk on his team clinching a playoff berth. "They've worked hard all year and today everyone who played stepped up at crucial times to help us finish the game out. We were at a huge height disadvantage and the guards helped with the big rebounds in overtime. I think all the close games we had helped us with our execution at the end of regulation and in the overtime. Our goal now is to keep this going so we can host a playoff game in our gym."
VanDuluitgaarden led the team with 27 points with seven boards, four assists, four blocks, and two steals in the overtime victory. Nwaekeke scored 17 with a team high eight boards while Camel and Sharp scored 15 points each. VanAuken scored 12 points with six rebounds while Darrell scored five with a team high seven assists and team high four steals.
Heard scored six points in the win to go with his five rebounds. Jagdeep Drumgoole (Rochester, NY/Early College) played big minutes for the men, grabbing four boards in 13 minutes of action.
The next game for the men comes this Monday, February 11 as the host the Medaille Mavericks in a key game for AMCC playoff seeding. Game time for the men is at 8:00pm in the College Center Gym.