Altoona, PA – The D'Youville men's basketball team bounced back after their loss to Pitt.-Bradford on Thursday by claiming victory over the Penn State-Altoona Lions on Saturday afternoon by the final score of 93-87.
Seniors Nate Sweetman (Johnstown, NY/Johnstown) and Marcus Clarke (Olean, NY/Archbishop Walsh Academy) got the Spartans out to an early 6-0 lead with back-to-back three-pointers in the first 1:27. Will VanAuken (Caledonia, NY/Caledonia-Mumford) and Steve Kunelius (Oswego, NY/Oswego) both made buckets to give the team a 11-5 lead just 3:15 into the game. The Lions would get back into the game thanks to a 3-minute scoring drought from the Spartans.
Altoona got within 2 points of the lead but Juan Miguel Rosales (Guatemala City, Guatemala/Village School) gave the team a 4-point lead again. However the Lions would ultimately catch the Spartans and tie the game at 13 until Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden (Oneida, NY/Vernon-Verona-Sherrill) scored his first 5 points of the game followed by a Rosales layup, giving D'Youville a 7 point lead.
With 8:08 left in the first half, Altoona caught back up to D'Youville and trailed by 2. Back-to-back-to-back threes from Conor Gallivan (Elma, NY/Iroquois) and Zach Blask (Portville, NY/Portville) pushed the Spartan lead back out to 7. D'Youville's offense surged as they took a 40-27 lead with 4:41 left in the half, but again the Lions would fight back and trail 44-38 at halftime.
The Lions took over the lead for the first time in the game starting the second half thanks to the Spartans failing to score in the first 2:30 of the half. VanAuken kept the game within a basket twice in the early going of the second three-pointers from Blask and Clarke regained the lead for D'Youville with 14:20 to go in the game.
A layup from Blask with less than 10 minutes left in the game gave the Spartans an 8-point lead, but the Lions would continue to battle to stay in the game. They pulled to within 3 and threatened to tie the game but the Spartans pulled back out to a 10-point lead with 4:18 to go.
With 0:52 left in the game, D'Youville had an 86-84 lead and free-throws from Clarke, Blask and Jon Gemerek (Cheektowaga, NY/Depew) came in clutch as the Spartans would go on to win the game by the final score of 93-87.
"It was a great effort by the entire team," said Head Coach Earl Schunk on his team's third win in four games. "We didn't shoot well Thursday but today we shot very well early especially from three-point range."
Of the top long range shooters on the team Saturday afternoon was Zach Blask. The sophomore went 5-8 from behind the arc and scored a team high 21 points. Jeremy VanDuluitgaarden had 13 points, followed by Marcus Clarke with 12, Juan Miguel Rosales with 11 and Will VanAuken with 10.
Steve Kunelius scored 6 points and grabbed a team high 6 rebounds in his first start of the season. Clarke led the team with 6 assists and Blask had 4 steals to lead the team. Bayani Salinas (Antioch, CA/Antioch) scored 7 points off the bench and Conor Gallivan scored a season high 9 points.
"Penn State-Altoona came back at us hard and took the lead," said Coach Shunk. "We were able to keep our composure and execute down the end to hold them off."
All 10 Spartans that played scored at least a point in the game. Not only did all 10 players score, but they all recorded at least 2 rebounds and 1 assist in the game. The team shot 54% from the field and 48% from behind the arc. D'Youville also shot 80% from the line.
The bench scored 61 of 93 points for the Spartans, and Coach Schunk believed that was a big part of the team's fourth conference win of the season.
"We got great contributions from our bench today, and just as important was the energy the veterans gave us when they weren't in the game," said Schunk.
"This was a game that really tested our commitment and resolve and we passed the test," he continued.
D'Youville will have several days off until they travel to Penn State-Behrend on Thursday, January 21st to play the Lions at 6pm.