On Saturday night, the #13 Yeshiva University Maccabees faced off against Penn State University-Harrisburg in a spectator-less Goldfarb Gymnasium. Both teams were coming off of their first NCAA Tournament win in program history, with YU having defeated WPI and PSU-H upsetting #6 Johns Hopkins on Friday. The Nittany Lions hung with the Macs for most of the first half, as the game was tied at 35-all with just a few minutes left. However, Yeshiva pulled away in the second, and with their 102-83 victory, they advanced to the “Sweet 16.”
Dylan Daniels got the scoring started with an and-one, but Ryan Turell continued right where he left off on Friday, nailing a three-pointer. He would follow up the trey by driving through a crease in the Penn State-Harrisburg zone and laying the ball in. Gabriel Leifer crashed the glass for two more, but a Nittany Lion three gave them an 8-7 lead four minutes into the game.
After a 45-point outburst on Friday night, Donyae Baylor-Carroll drilled his first triple of the game, extending PSU-Harrisburg’s advantage to four. Ofek Reef provided a spurt of energy off the bench, and his baseline drive stopped a 6-0 run by the Nittany Lions. A Leifer block resulted in a fast break score for Reef, and a Simcha Halpert bucket put Yeshiva on top and prompted Coach Don Friday to call timeout.
Throughout the next five minutes, the lead consistently changed hands, as both teams hit their stride. At the under-8 media timeout, Yeshiva was up by one, 26-25. Out of the stoppage, Nate Curry and Turell traded blows, and with 2:45 on the clock, the game was tied at 35. During this time, Daniels picked up his third personal foul, and the Nittany Lions were forced to sit their 6’7” center for much of the remainder of the game.
In typical Macs fashion, in a tight game with not much time remaining in the first half, YU found their footing, going on a 7-0 run to nab a 42-35 lead. Pedro Rodriguez hit a three-point shot, but Turell closed out the period with a fadeaway jumper, giving the sophomore a team-leading 13 points, and the Macs a 44-38 lead.
Just as he did to begin the game, Turell picked up YU’s first points of the second half, as he connected on a five-foot floater. Eitan Halpert then drained a triple, and followed it up by picking the pocket of Zegary Scott III, scoring with ease. Leifer bullied his way inside to give the Macs an 11-point lead, forcing Coach Friday to call a timeout for Penn State-Harrisburg.
Back-to-back drives to the hole cut the Macs’ lead to seven. Turell found Eitan Halpert open in the corner for three, but Baylor-Carroll responded with a four-point play. In response, YU went on a 7-0 run, and were up 11 again. However, the Nittany Lions would remain within reach, as Baylor-Carroll nailed another three-pointer with 11:39 remaining in the game.
That’s when Simcha Halpert decided that it was time for some daggers, as he hit back-to-back shots from beyond the arch against the Nittany Lions’ zone. An off-ball screen allowed Halpert to curl into open space, and his jumper got him up to 18 points on the night. A Turell triple and a Leifer alley-oop to Reef continued the sudden burst of offense for Yeshiva, who were on a 31-12 extended run when the Nittany Lions burned their final timeout.
After Sim nailed another 3, the co-captain missed a layup, only to have Turell come flying through for a monster put-back slam. PSU-Harrisburg tried a full court press, but the Macs easily broke it, resulting in a couple of buckets for hometown favorite Dani Katz. Turell hit a jumper to get the Macs to 100 points, and on that basket, Leifer picked up his 10th assist. With that, Gabe accomplished his fourth triple-double of the year, as he also racked up 20 rebounds and 10 points throughout the contest.
The final score was 102-83, as the Maccabees won their 29th game in a row. Ryan Turell led the scoring with 30 points, while Simcha and Eitan Halpert had 21 and 18, respectively. Ofek Reef tallied 16 points on the night. For the game, the Macs shot 65.1% from the floor and 64.7% from three; in the second half alone, those totals were an incredible 85.19% and 77.78%, respectively. Donyae Baylor-Carroll had a team-high 26 for PSU-Harrisburg, although it took him just as many shot attempts to get there.
As Easy as 1... 2-3
For the vast majority of the game, the Nittany Lions sat in a 2-3 zone. While it was the defense of choice for PSU-H this year, it made little sense against the Maccabees’ motion offense and fantastic shooters. Yeshiva simply passed into the middle of the zone all night, and depending on how the Nittany Lions helped, the high post player decided whether to take it himself, find a cutter, or kick out for three. This led to numerous open shots, most of which YU drained. The only logical explanation for sticking to the zone was that they only had one day to prepare, and having not run basically any defense other than man-to-man all season, where they matched up poorly, they were stuck with a 2-3.
One of the storylines coming into this game was the fatigue factor: how would each team respond to the quick turnaround? This question was much more significant to the Nittany Lions, who needed double overtime to defeat Johns Hopkins. In addition, normal starter Chris Haynes was injured; for a team which essentially only went 7-deep on Friday, this loss was extremely detrimental. With Daniels in foul trouble, Coach Friday’s options were even more limited. Surprisingly, it did not appear that his team was tired during the game, but in order to ensure that this was the case, he was forced to dig deeper into his bench than he probably would have liked.
Undoubtedly, the top player in this weekend’s games at Johns Hopkins was Ryan Turell. Following a 41-point showing on Friday, Turell struggled somewhat early on, starting 2-5 from the floor. He then proceeded to hit 90% of his shots throughout the rest of the game. In addition, despite attempting just 66 threes all season, Ryan took 12 in the two games, and hit 10; this bumped up his shooting percentage from behind the arc this season from 39.4% to 46.2%. Turell combined to go 24-31 from the field and racked up 71 points, an incredible performance in his first two tournament games.
With the win, the Maccabees now find themselves in the Third Round of the NCAA DIII Tournament. In order to advance to the Quarterfinals in Fort Wayne, Yeshiva will have to defeat #3 Randolph-Macon, a team which boasts the best defense in D3 and a 27-game home winning streak. That road matchup will commence on Friday at 2:00 PM from Crenshaw Gym in Ashland, VA. Stay tuned to MacsLive.com and social media for information regarding tickets and the broadcast of that contest.