BUFFALO, NY – The Franciscan basketball team fell to D'Youville, 75-66, on the road Saturday afternoon in an Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference contest.
The Spartans used a 41-point second half to earn their fourth conference win of the season. Leading by two at the half, sophomore Matt Trent opened the second half with a jumper to push the Baron lead to four, 38-34. Jeremy Vanduluit cut the lead back down to two, 38-36, with a layup before the Barons went on a 10-2 run to take a 10-point lead, 48-38, with 15:05 to play.
The Spartans chipped away over the next three minutes and cut the lead back down to two, 48-46, but freshman Sean Hickey halted the DYC run with a three-pointer with 12:33 to play. Vanduluit hit back to back jumpers to close the gap to one, 51-50, but Trent continued to play well in the paint and hit a short jumper with 10:53 to play to keep the Barons ahead by three, 53-50. Over the next five minutes, the Spartans turned a three-point deficit into a five-point lead with a 10-2 run to take the lead 60-55 which turned out to be the last lead change of the game. The Spartans used a 13-7 run over the next four minutes to push their lead to 11, 73-62, the largest lead for either team in the contest. With 41 seconds to play, Trent hit his first career three-pointer to cut the lead down to eight, 73-65, with 41 seconds left. Simeon Heard sandwiched a pair of free throws around Trent's final free throw of the game to secure the 75-66 win for the Spartans. With 16 seconds left in the game, Trent pulled down his 10th rebound of the game and 216th of the season, tying the Barons' single-season rebound record with two games left in the regular season.
"Today was a tough one. We just couldn't put it all together," remarked head coach Joe Wallace. "Our on-ball defense wasn't at the level it needed to be. I think the way the game was called played a part in it as well. They called a lot of touch fouls which aided D'Youville's strategy."
The first half was closely contested as the Barons led for most of the first half, taking their largest lead of the first with 12:32 to play as sophomore Josh York hit a free throw to give Franciscan a 16-8 lead. The Spartans climbed back and tied the game at 16 before eventually taking a one-point lead, 24-23, with 6:53 to play. After a Spartan free throw made it 25-23, Hickey tied the game at 25-25. The two teams traded the lead four more times before the Barons eventually took a 34-30 lead thanks to a pair of free throws from senior Keoni Sablan with 1:59 to play. Hickey hit a pair of free throws with 34 seconds left to extend the Baron lead to four, 36-32, before Brian Nwaekeke made a layup in the final second of the first half to send the game into the break 36-34 in favor of the Barons.
Trent led the Barons with 20 points and 10 rebounds for his fourth-straight double-double. Hickey posted 16 points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the free throw line.
"Matt has been playing at a high level and made big plays all game," continued Coach Wallace. "Matt and Josh were in foul trouble all game and it hurt our flow on both sides of the floor. Sean continues to look comfortable in our offense."
Sablan finished the game with 12 points, four rebounds, and three assists while senior Jacob Divens handed out team-best six assists to go with his five rebounds and steal.
The Barons return home on Wednesday for their final homestand of the regular season as the Barons host Mt. Aloysius in a crucial AMCC contest at 6 pm.
"This Wednesday is probably the biggest home game since our program was restored," remarked Coach Wallace. "We need everyone's help. These guys have been resilient all season and will come out fighting."