Buffalo, NY – The D'Youville men's basketball team lost a hard-fought battle Saturday afternoon as they fell to the visiting Penn State-Altoona Lions 75-74.
Altoona established the early lead over D'Youville, leading 8-4 after 2:28 of game action. The Spartans would begin to catch their bearings on offense, trailing by one at 10-9 following a Devon Camel (Cheektowaga, NY/Cheektowaga) layup. Neither team was able to gain a great deal of traction on offense, but D'Youville was able to get going. Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Verona, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) tied the game at 14-14 and Brian Sharp (Newark, NY/Newark) put the Spartans ahead by three on a made three just a few minutes later.
The lead went back the way of the Lions, but a made Devon Darrell (Lockport, NY/Lockport) three put the Spartans up by three at 28-25. With 4:15 to go in the half, Altoona retook the lead by a point just to have Grant Beyer (Williamsville, NY/St. Joe's) take the lead back on a three of his own. Following yet another three from Sharp to make the score 39-36 in favor of the Spartans, the Lions went on a 6-2 scoring run in the final 2:22 to lead at the half 42-41.
It remained a close game to begin the second half. After just 3:10 of play in the half, the Lions opened up a five-point lead that grew to nine. Three consecutive layups put the Spartans back within a basket at 57-54 with 5:36 off the clock. With 12:03 remaining in the game, Darrell sank a pair of free throws to put the Spartans then within one.
Jake Socha (Tonawanda, NY/Niagara Catholic) would go to the line with 9:27 to go and sink a pair of free throws to tie the game at 62-62. On the very next possession, Beyer would throw down a breakaway dunk to give the Spartans the lead at 64-62. As the half ticked on, both teams were entrenched in a battle. Tied at 65 apiece, Beyer drilled a big three to give the team the team leading into the final six minutes of play.
Following another Beyer three, Socha again came up clutch from the line with a pair of free throws at the 4:58 mark, extending the D'Youville lead to 73-67. Altoona had a series of offensive rebounds inside three minutes that kept their possession alive. They finally capitalized to make it a one-point game at 74-73 with 1:47 to go in regulation. The Lions would force a turnover and get a basket with 0:54.8 to go, taking the one-point advantage. In the final seconds, the Lions would force a big turnover to end the Spartan's hopes, defeating them 75-74.
"The good news from this is that we have put ourselves in position to win, having the lead after 39 minutes in the last two games," said head coach Earl Schunk. "We have to learn to close the deal at the end of games. We have a lot of guys capable of making big plays at the end of games. I believe in these guys, all 13 of them. We will find a way to pull this off."
Beyer led the team in scoring with 19 points, adding seven boards and two assists. Both VanDuluitgaarden and Darrell added 13 points with VanDuluitgaarden grabbing a team high 10 rebounds. Off the bench, Sharp tallied 10 points with Simeon Heard (Rochester, NY/Charles Finney) adding six points and seven boards.
The next game for the men will come this Monday, January 7 as they travel to Medaille to take on the Mavericks at 7:00pm.