On Saturday night, the #24 Yeshiva University Maccabees returned to the Max Stern Athletic Center for their second home game in three days. A 17-2 run early on propelled the Macs to a 54-40 halftime lead, and YU would never look back. Yeshiva’s advantage would balloon to 36 with a few minutes to go, and the Macs were ultimately victorious, 100-79.
“Our ball movement was fantastic tonight,” said Coach Elliot Steinmetz, praising his team’s offensive execution. “Our spacing and cutting was efficient, and our shooting percentage was a direct result of that.” The Macs made 56.4% of their shots from the floor tonight, and hit an astounding 50% of their threes.
Gabriel Leifer was the main man for the Macs in the early going, as he showed his ability to score from behind the arc, and set up multiple buckets with slick passing. An Ofek Reef steal resulted in a fastbreak, which Ryan Turell finished with a layup. 7 minutes in, Yeshiva had an 18-10 lead.
For a couple of minutes, Coach Steinmetz removed four starters from the game, replacing them with fresh legs. Leifer remained in, and hit another three-pointer; Caleb Milobsky followed that up with an and-one. Eitan Halpert then proceeded to hit back-to-back treys, as the Macs showed off their deep bench. YU was on a 17-2 run, and held a 30-12 lead halfway through the first.
Manhattanville would score eight consecutive points, as they inched closer to the Maccabees. However, two sets of free throws by Turell, a layup by Leifer, and a couple of pretty-looking buckets by Simcha Halpert put the Macs in a much more comfortable position.
Five of the Valiants’ final six three-point attempts of the half were converted, as Jake Dunn, Cory Madden, and Matt Bielenda showed off their range. Despite their valiant efforts to get Manhattanville back in the game, Yeshiva held a 14-point lead at the break.
The second half began with a Simcha Halpert and-one, giving him ten points on the night. Gabe then nailed another three, giving him four treys on the night on just as many attempts. Turell, Leifer, and Reef all got in the action during an 11-0 Macs run, and with 14 ½ minutes to go in the game, Yeshiva held a commanding 26-point advantage.
With 13 minutes on the clock, Manhattanville exited their man-to-man defense, switching to a halfcourt press. However, Simcha Halpert would hit back-to-back threes, as the Macs quickly broke the Valiants’ press. Yeshiva would turn the ball over a few times, a direct result of poor passing due to the press, but they were able to settle down relatively quickly.
Halpert would drain another shot from behind the arc with seven minutes to go, essentially sealing Manhattanville’s fate. With just under six minutes remaining, the Macs led 95-59, as the starters got an early night off. Ryan Bokor would score his first collegiate points on a layup with 90 seconds remaining, as Yeshiva broke the 100-point mark for the second time this season.
Ryan Turell led the way for the Macs with 25 points, as his drives to the hoop and pivoting moves in the post led to numerous shots from the charity stripe. Gabe Leifer hit 4 of his 5 three-point attempts, as the power forward picked up 24 points and 16 rebounds. Two days after hitting seven 3s, Simcha Halpert hit four of his seven attempts from behind the arc, and finished with 21 points. Five Manhattanville players finished in double digits, but none scored more than Jake Dunn’s 15.
Yeshiva has played extremely well this season, and the Macs’ game-planning and execution has obviously been on-point. Throughout the season, YU has shown an ability to slow down their opponents’ top scorers, and the Macs have forced other teams to beat them with secondary players. Tonight, the Macs not only shut down the Valiants’ biggest threat in three-point shooter Mike Granda, but they also practically eliminated one of their main methods of scoring.
As mentioned in the MacsLive Gameday Preview, Manhattanville runs a dribble drive offense, as they try to penetrate the paint for easy layups and kick out for open threes. Yeshiva did a great job at taking away middle drive, and forced the Valiants to either kick out for extremely long or contested threes, or take twos from uncomfortable angles. In addition, Gabe Leifer and Dani Katz played good straight up defense, and helped to stop the Valiants from scoring inside. These two were also able to outlet some of their rebounds for easy fast break points, which the Macs had 17 of tonight.
With the win, the Macs extend their winning streak to 17 in a row, which ties last year’s streak for the longest in program history. Yeshiva also remains undefeated in-conference, and is 2 ½ games up (due to head-to-head tiebreakers) on the next-closest team, Purchase. The magic number for the Macs to clinch the one seed in the Skyline is four.
The Macs may have just beaten two of the best teams in the Skyline Conference back-to-back, but the game that is circled on their calendars is this Monday. The Macs will travel up to Massachusetts to take on perennial DIII powerhouse Williams College, in a matchup which every Top 25 voter should have their eyes on. Williams will broadcast that game, but we will, as always, have a preview waiting for you before tip off, and a recap written up a few hours after it finishes. In addition, be sure to check back on MacsLive.com tomorrow morning for highlights from tonight’s victory!