Hamburg, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team ground out a late win on Wednesday evening, defeating the Hilbert Hawks in the finals second by the final score of 77-76.
Hilbert was in control of the game in the first minute and a half of the game. They led 8-0 and then 12-4 before the Spartans began to get involved in the game. Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) hit a big three to make it a three-point game through 4:18 of play. Following a Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) layup, Camel drilled another three to put D'Youville up with their first lead of the game at 14-12.
The battle then began for the two teams as they went back and forth over the next several minutes, but D'Youville would start to swing momentum their way. VanDuluitgaarden would drill a three to untie the game and give the Spartans a 21-18 lead. That three would spark the D'Youville offense as they scored the next eight points that was capped off by a Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) jumper that put the Spartans up 29-18 with 8:06 to go in the half.
A made layup put Hilbert behind by seven with under five to go in the first, then trimming the deficit to four at 35-31. Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) put the Spartans up seven with 1:30 remaining on a layup, but Hilbert would keep fighting to the horn as they made it a three-point game at the half, trailing 40-37.
It didn't take long for the Hawks to regain the lead as they scored the first four point of the half and took a 41-40 lead after just 0:37 of action in the second. D'Youville would regain the lead and make the score 51-44 in their favor following another VanDuluitgaarden three as the Spartans began to regain their momentum. The lead grew to nine for D'Youville with a Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark) three – their largest of the half with 13:18 to go in the game.
As the game got under 10 minutes to go, Hilbert was able to trim their deficit to four. A layup from the Hawks with 6:51 to go made it a two-point deficit at 68-66, but Camel answered with a three that pushed the lead back up to five for the Spartans. VanDuluitgaarden would then make a layup a few minutes later, bringing their lead back to nine and seemingly putting the game out of reach.
Despite being down, the Hawks were not out. They continued to fight and trailed four with 2:30 to go. The next basket came over a minute later as Hilbert then trailed by two. It took over minute again for the next basket, but it again came from the Hawks with 0:12 left on the clock and put Hilbert in the lead at 76-75.
D'Youville was able to get the ball back and bring the ball down the floor, grabbing an offensive board with 0:03 to go. The ball would be inbounded to VanDuluitgaarden and he would be fouled with 0:00.4 on the clock. The senior went to the line and sank the first free throw to tie the game at 76-76. He then stepped up to the line again and converted the second free throw to take the lead at 77-76 and win the game for the men as they won by the same score.
"It was a huge win for us," said head coach Earl Schunk following the big win. "First, it keeps us in the hunt to host a playoff game and second, we overcame late adversity to come back and win. Also, we were shorthanded with a couple of injuries and everyone stepped up and made significant contributions to the win."
VanDuluitgaarden led D'Youville with 32 points and 13 rebounds, playing all 40 minutes and shooting a perfect 4-4 from the line and rejecting five shots. Camel added 16 points with six boards and six assists while Nwaekeke had a double-double off the bench with 14 points and 10 rebounds. Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) added eight points and a team high nine assists.
Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) scored a pair of points but had eight rebounds while Sharp added three points. Heard came up with two points and three points off the bench.
In addition to recording yet another double-double and scoring the game-winning free throw, VanDuluitgaarden became the program's all-time leading rebounder. The previous mark was 570 with VanDuluitgaarden currently at 583 and at least two games remaining in his career.
The final game of the regular season this Saturday, February 16 as they host the Franciscan Barons at 4:00pm for the team's senior day.