Barons Wrap Up Regular Season with Win at D'Youville

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BUFFALO, NY – In the regular season finale, the Franciscan men's basketball team saw all five of its starters hit double-digits as the Barons defeated D'Youville, 89-82, to secure the first regular season winning record since the 1972-73 season.
With the win, the Barons improved to 13-12 on the year and 9-9 in the regular season. Franciscan secured the No. 6 seed in the conference tournament last Wednesday and will head back to Buffalo on February 20 to take on the No. 3 seed, Medaille, at 7:00 pm in the first round of the Allegheny Mountain Collegiate Conference tournament.
"Joe Schriner, Matt Trent, Josh York, Nick Mersch, and John Noce have been in the program now for three years. It's pretty amazing what they've accomplished," remarked head coach Joe Wallace. "The five years before they got here the program won 13 total games. As juniors, they have led us to 13 wins in one season. They stuck through the hard times and kept working. They are winners!"
The win also gives Coach Wallace his 22nd career win as the head coach of the Barons and he now sits alone at the top of the career win column for DIII head coaches at Franciscan.
"This group continues to show how tough they are," continued Coach Wallace. "We go on the road to win three-straight, clinch a playoff spot, and secure our first winning season since 1973.
"I told our guys after the game we now are going to start getting compared to the old teams. Everyone around Steubenville always talks about how good the Barons were back in the day. Well Steubenville's college team is becoming pretty special now."
Leading the offense was junior Matt Trent (Cleveland, OH/Trinity) with a career-best 27 points behind a 12-for-18 day from the field, including 3-for-4 from beyond the arc. Today's game marked Trent's third 20+ point performance and fifth-straight game hitting double figures.
Trent got things going for the Barons with a jumper in the pair in the first minute of the game and after D'Youville tied it at 2-2, the junior hit his first three at the top of the key to give Franciscan a 5-2 lead. The Spartans came back and tied it at 7-7, they took their first lead of the game, 9-7, thanks to a layup from Jeremy Vanduluitgaarden with 14:55 to play. The Barons came back and took a 12-9 lead after a 5-0 run sparked by a three from freshman Justin Mack (Oxnard, CA/Oxnard). The Barons eventually pushed their lead out to six, 18-12 thanks to a layup from junior John Noce (Brewster, NY/John F. Kennedy Catholic) with 11:16 to play in the first.
The Spartans came back once again and took a 19-18 lead before a pair of jumpers from juniors Josh York (Russia, OH/Russia Local) and Joe Schriner (Bluffton, OH/Bluffton) gave the lead back to Franciscan, 22-19, with 8:46 to play. The Spartans tied the game once again, 22-22, but a three from sophomore Sean Hickey (North Olmstead, OH/Holy Name) gave the lead back to Franciscan for good in the half and the Barons rode a 21-11 run in the final eight minutes to lead 43-36 at the break.
D'Youvile cut the lead down to one, 45-44, in the first 2:28 of the second half, but a jumper from Trent pushed the lead back to three, 47-44, and the Barons were able to hold off a feisty Spartan offense. With 9:04 to play, D'Youville saw its final lead on the scoreboard as Vanduluitgaarden made a layup to give the Spartans a 67-65 lead. Hickey answered with the Barons next trip down the floor and the two teams traded the next two baskets before Trent put Franciscan up, 72-69, with his third three of the game and 7:55 to play.
The Spartans wouldn't go quietly, however, and tied the game back up at 78 with 3:22 left in regulation. Playing their third road game in six days, the Barons were hoping to close this one out in regulation and Hickey drained a corner three with 2:47 to play to give Franciscan the lead for good. A layup from Will Vanauken trimmed the lead down to one, 81-80, but a layup from Noce and a three from Schriner pushed the lead back to six, 86-80 with 1:13 left on the clock.
Vanduluitgaarden finished the scoring for the Spartans with a jumper just under the minute mark but three free throws from Hickey and Noce sealed the 89-82 win.
"We are going to enjoy this win until Monday. We have to head back on the road for the fourth-straight game. We are battled tested and ready for post-season basketball," commented Coach Wallace.
Hickey finished the day with 15 points while York posed his fourth double-double of the year with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Schriner chipped in 14 points for the Barons while Noce rounded out the double-digit performances with 10 points and six rebounds. Schriner added six assists for the Barons.
With the regular season wrapped up, the Barons will head to the AMCC tournament for the first time in program history. Franciscan opens the tournament on the road at third-seeded Medaille for a 7:00 pm tip. The Barons and Mavericks split the regular season series with each team winning on its home court.
"I remember when I first got hired and I was out recruiting. There was a head coach at another AMCC school there. We were talking about the challenges he saw with Franciscan and how he thought it would be hard to compete. He told me if you ever make the conference tournament they should have a parade for you guys. I remember telling him we will be here quicker than you think. Here we are."