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Leifer Drains Game-Winning 3 in Final Seconds as Macs Survive Upset Bid

The YU Macs continued their stretch of games against the Skyline Conference’s Northern Division on Tuesday night, when they faced off against the Sarah Lawrence Gryphons. Sarah Lawrence stuck with the Macs throughout, and by the time the midway point of the second half came around, it was clear that tonight’s game presented the greatest challenge Yeshiva had encountered all season. With 90 seconds remaining, Enike Anyia hit a clutch three-pointer to give the Gryphons a one-point lead. After two free throws from Ryan Turell, Omar Jamaleddine connected on a tough jumper to put Sarah Lawrence back on top. That set the stage for Gabe Leifer, who, with ice in his veins, nailed a corner three with 13 seconds to go. The Yeshiva defense would hold, and the Macs walked off the court with a 74-72 win.

The Gryphons started the game in a half-court press, attempting to increase the pressure on the newly nationally-ranked Macs, and force them into errors. Yet Yeshiva scored on their first three possessions, as Ryan Turell hit both a jumper and a layup, and Simcha Halpert knocked down three attempts from the charity stripe. However, the Macs would proceed to go cold from the field, and turned the ball over a couple of times. In the span of just four minutes, Sarah Lawrence would go on a 10-0 run, capped off by an Andrew Varoli three-pointer.

The Macs would regain the lead with 11:50 on the clock, as Turell hit an open three, but Chris Torres responded with a trey of his own. A 7-0 YU run gave the Macs a 22-19 lead with 9:10 to go, and Sarah Lawrence called timeout.

The Gryphons began to relax their press a little bit, but continued to switch up their defensive looks in an effort to confuse the Macs. However, YU began to play their best basketball of the night, as their incredible motion offense created open scoring opportunities. Numerous displays of excellent passing, including an Ofek Reef dish to Dani Katz, gave YU some breathing room. Simcha Halpert hit Ryan Turell on a fast break, and the sophomore’s layup gave the Macs a 31-21 lead.

Following another Sarah Lawrence timeout, Leifer proceeded to bully his way home, completing an 18-2 run for the Macs. The Macs held Sarah Lawrence to just five points in the final eleven minutes, and Yeshiva held a nine-point advantage at the half.

To start the second half, Simcha Halpert exited the game with a lower back injury. His back has been bothering him for quite some time, and he was in too much pain to continue playing. Sim would not return, and his absence on the court severely limited the Macs ability to stretch the floor.

A 7-0 run by Sarah Lawrence cut the YU advantage to two. Coach Elliot Steinmetz, frustrated by the fact that his team was not running their offense, called timeout. As it turns out, YU would struggle to get much of any motion going in the second period, and their offense was fully reliant on Turell and Leifer making something happen for the remainder of the game.

A trey by Isaiah Pean with 9 minutes to go cut YU’s advantage to two, but Turell responded, drilling a three-pointer. While Yeshiva was maintaining the upper hand, it appeared as if they were too unconfident, and were passing up some open shots. However, Eitan Halpert didn’t think twice when an opportunity presented itself from beyond the arc with under four minutes to go. Halpert nailed the three, and with the Macs up by 10, the tension appeared to be lifted from both Yeshiva and their fans.

That’s when the Gryphons attacked. After a layup by Anyia, Sarah Lawrence players were fouled on five consecutive possessions, most on drives to the rim, and the Gryphons hit eight free throws, tying the game at 67. During this stretch, Dani Katz fouled out, and with their floor general on the sidelines, things were looking bleak for YU.

However, Katz’s replacement, Caleb Milobsky, would come up huge, as he hit a layup off a feed from Leifer to put the Macs back in front. That’s when Enike Anyia showed that he is not just a threat inside, as the 6’5” forward connected from downtown, giving the Gryphons their first lead since there were 10 minutes remaining in the first half.

With 45 seconds on the clock, Ryan Turell was sent to the line for two free throws. Despite missing a few shots from the charity stripe just minutes before, the California native maintained his composure, hitting both. On the other end of the floor, Jamaleddine got a tough shot to go. That set up the Macs, down one, with 30 seconds remaining.

Turell took the ball up the floor, and passed to Caleb Milobsky. Milobsky, not seeing any openings, sent the rock back to Turell, who was on the left wing. Milobsky and Leifer then proceeded to switch sides of the floor, as Leifer ran along the baseline, towards the left corner. In the process, he evaded the sight of 6’6” BJ Sanders. Turell then drove towards the hoop, double clutched, and, seeing that Sanders was committing to him instead of Leifer, passed to the Lawrence native. Gabe, with a beautifully arching shot, drained the three, putting the Macs up by two with just 13 seconds to go.

Sarah Lawrence’s final play would prove unproductive, and the Macs held on for a gritty, 74-72 victory. Turell and Leifer led the way, scoring 34 and 23, respectively. No other Maccabee had more than six points. Anyia was the main source of offense for the Gryphons tonight, as he scored 22 points on 8-13 shooting. Three-point shooter Chris Torres was 4-6 from outside, while Jamaleddine, who was primarily guarded by Turell, was held to 13 points, well below his season average.

With this win, the Macs extend their winning streak to 15 games, and are nearing the program record 17-game streak set last season. Yeshiva is still perfect in the Skyline Conference, with their only blemish being on opening night at Occidental. Sarah Lawrence falls to 7-10 overall, and are now 3-5 in the Skyline. They still hold a Skyline playoff spot, but must play good basketball down the stretch if they want to be alive in late February.

YU’s next game is this Thursday, at home, against Purchase, the current leader of the Skyline’s Northern Division. If you can, we highly advise you to make the trip to the Max Stern Athletic Center. But if you can’t come, be sure to tune into MacsLive; tip is at 8:00 PM.

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