Buffalo, NY - The D'Youville men's basketball team had a hard-fought home opener on Monday evening, falling to the Alfred Saxons by the final score of 83-77.
Alfred led early into the game as they were ahead 13-5 through the first five minutes. The Spartans would come back to within two points after a Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) made layup. As the teams continued to battle, the lead for Alfred grew to six before D'Youville was able to bring the deficit back down to three on a Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) three, making the score 23-20 in favor of the Saxons with 8:50 to go in the half.
D'Youville was able to pull to within a point at 29-28 after two Darrell made free throws, taking the lead on their next possession. The Saxons would come right back to retake the lead, but a Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) then drilled a three to tie the game. With 0:25 to go in the half, Alfred took a four-point lead but VanDuluitgaarden then drilled a jumper with 0:04 to go and the Spartans trailed 37-35 at halftime.
It remained a close game in the second half as the Spartans trailed by one just over three minutes in. D'Youville tied the game on back-to-back possessions with a Grant Beyer (Williamsville, NY/St. Joe's) made jumper and a Heard made layup to tie the game at 48-all. With 7:43 elapsed in the second half, Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) drilled a three to give the Spartans their first lead since late in the first half.
The two teams would continue to trade baskets, but neither could pull away. Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) hit three consecutive free throws to give D'Youville a 59-58 with Brian Nwaekeke (Corona, CA/John F. Kennedy) making the lead three with 9:41 to go in the game.
Tied at 68-68, Alfred scored the next five points to take over the lead. D'Youville got to within three points at 75-72, but that would be the closest the men could get during the remainder of the game. The Spartans would fall to the Saxons by the final of 83-77.
"We fought hard throughout the game, and it was good to see us do that against a quality opponent," said head coach Earl Schunk. "We need to take care of some of the smaller details to finish out games like that, but I'm really impressed so far with the way we are playing on both ends of the floor."
Beyer led the team with 19 points in the game, followed by Heard with 16 and VanDuluitgaarden with 15. Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) led the team with 10 rebounds as Heard recorded eight and VanDuluitgaarden grabbed seven. Darrell led the team with four assists.
Nwaekeke had nine points with six boards to lead the team. Both Socha and Camel each added five points with Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark) receiving quality minutes.
The next game for the men will come in their conference opener as they host the Fredonia Blue Devils on Wednesday, November 14 at 7:00pm.