Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team wrapped up their regular season by celebrating their seniors as they fell to the Franciscan Barons by the final score 89-82 on senior day.
Down early by three at 7-4, Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) hit a three followed by a layup to give the Spartans a 9-7 advantage. Franciscan would come back to take the lead at 13-12 and then extend their lead to 18-12 with 11:16 to go in the half.
VanDuluitgaarden would give the Spartans the lead back at 19-18 with the team's seventh unanswered point. The Barons would then retake the lead, but a pair of Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) free throws would make it a one-point game at 25-24. As the half wore down, Franciscan would start to pull away. With 2:32 to go in the half, the Barons opened up a 39-31 lead over D'Youville. The Spartans would pull back to within seven at the half, trailing 43-36.
D'Youville began the second half in a big way. The men outscored the Barons 8-2 in the first 2:28 of the half to trail at one 45-44. As close as they got the Franciscan lead over the next several minutes, they were not yet able to regain a share. Down three, Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark) hit a big three with 11:06 to go in the game to tie it up at 58-58.
Despite tying the game, the Barons would regain the lead just to have Sharp tie it again at 63-63 with another three. For the first time in the half, D'Youville took the lead on the Spartan's next possession at 65-63 with a Heard layup. That lead would evaporate for D'Youville as the game was tied 69-69 with 8:10 to go as Franciscan would then go on a 5-0 to take the lead.
Down to under five to go in the game, the Spartans remained down by five. D'Youville would go on a 5-0 scoring run of their own including two Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) free throws and a VanDuluitgaarden three to tie it at 76 with 3:56 to go. The lead would shift back in favor of Franciscan a made three, then opening up a three-point lead at 83-80 on a made layup. A three from the Barons would then make it 86-80 with 1:13 left on the clock.
VanDuluitgaarden would hit a jumper with under a minute as the Barons led 86-82. D'Youville would foul and send the Barons to the line and unfortunately for the Spartans, they were unable to come back as they fell to the Barons by the final score of 89-82.
"Disappointing way to end the regular season, but we are in the same situation we were in before the game: we need to win on Wednesday to get to the final four," said head coach Earl Schunk following the loss. "I'm really proud of these guys for how well they've performed all year. Give credit to Franciscan today, they made a lot of big shots. We will be ready for Wednesday."
VanDuluitgaarden put together his second consecutive game of 30-plus points and 12-plus rebounds. He is now just eight points away from breaking the program scoring title as he scored 31 points with 15 rebounds in the game. He and Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) were the only two Spartans to play all 40 minutes as the two closed out their regular season careers as Spartans.
Nwaekeke added 13 points, five rebounds, and five rebounds as he and Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) also played in their final regular season games with D'Youville. Camel scored seven points with five assists and two blocks.
Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) and Sharp each scored 10 points with Heard adding seven points. Grant Beyer (Williamsville, NY/St. Joe's) played 10 minutes in his return from injury, dishing out two assists.
D'Youville will play next on Wednesday, February 20 as they travel to the fourth seeded Mount Aloysius Mounties in the first round of the AMCC playoffs.