The Maccabees sought their first win of the season as they traveled to Connecticut on Wednesday to take on the Saint Joseph Blue Jays. They looked strong at the start, jumping out to a 10-3 lead just three minutes into the game. The Macs were playing tough defense and started red hot from three, shooting 4/6. Early on in the game, Max Zakheim, who transferred in from Bryant University, appeared to get injured as he hit a tough layup with his off hand. Zakheim did not return after that, and his absence was felt as the game developed. Oren Betesh came in off the bench like a flamethrower and hit two three-pointers almost right away.
The Blue Jays started off the game ice cold, but with their gritty defense, they kept the deficit to a minimum. It wasn’t until the 10th minute of the half that the Blue Jays connected on a field goal from behind the arc. What really got the Blue Jays going was their suffocating press and great anticipation in the passing lanes. They forced Yeshiva into 13 turnovers in the first half alone. At halftime, Saint Joseph were winning with a score of 36-29.
The Macs needed to come out strong and with a purpose in the second half if they wanted to overcome a deficit to the 13th ranked team in the nation. During the first half it looked promising. Zevi Samet, who played better than his field goal percentage conveys, hit a three pointer to cut the Macs deficit to four. Unfortunately, this is the closest the Macs would get to the Blue Jays the entire second half. The Macs continued to turn the ball over, leading to more Saint Joseph transition buckets. The Blue Jays did a fantastic job at staying in front of their man and preventing them from penetrating to the rim, which forced Yeshiva into what seemed like endless forced passes and shots.
On the defensive end for Yeshiva, they seemed to be slower in the second half. The other team’s ball handlers were constantly blowing by defenders for either an easy layup or a kick out to the corner. The Macs ended up losing this contest 69-60, but it was not all that bad. The Macs proved that they can shoot the lights out, but they need to have more control on offense and take better care of the ball.
Yeshiva ended up with 21 turnovers, resulting in 31 points for the Blue Jays. It is crucial that the Macs take better care of the ball if they want a successful season.
Lack of Penetration:
There were only a combined 23 free throws taken by both teams tonight, which is a surprisingly small number. The Blue Jays shot 10/13 and the Macs shot 7/10. Although it might not look like a big difference, it was clear when watching that the Macs struggled to get past defenders and create free throw opportunities. Out of Yeshiva’s 51 shots taken, 27 were three pointers. The Blue Jays had 66 field goal attempts, and only 19 of them were from behind the arc. If they want to be more successful this season, Yeshiva has to do a better job at getting to the rim.
The Macs easily could have lost this game by over 20 points if the Blue Jays didn’t shoot 5/19 from deep. A majority of their three point looks were wide open, but they did not capitalize on them. All game long, but especially during the second half, Yeshiva allowed whoever was handling the ball from Saint Joseph to get straight to the rim for a layup or kick out for a great look at a three pointer. The Macs will be looking to step up their defense next game against Illinois Wesleyan.
For Saint Joseph:
Ryan O’Neill led the scoring for the Blue Jays, putting up 18 points and shooting 4/7 from behind the arc.
Tyree Mitchell was attacking the rim all night, which resulted in a 14 point night on 5/11 shooting.
Jaecee Martin dropped a quiet 12-5-4 as he played a great all around game.
Zevi Samet led the scoring for the Macs. He put up 17 points while shooting 5/11 from three point range.
Daniel Margusov had an impressive outing off the bench as he dropped 16 points on 4/5 shooting, while simultaneously going 6/6 from the charity stripe.
Roy Itcovichi had a strong start with seven points in the first half on 3/3 shooting, but he was only able to get one shot off in the second half.
Yeshiva will travel to Chicago to take on the 21st ranked Illinois Wesleyan University Titans at 9PM this Saturday night. Stay tuned to MacsLive on social media for details regarding that game.