On Tuesday night, the #21 Yeshiva University Maccabees faced off against St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn in a Skyline Conference matchup. The Macs never trailed in the game, and rode Gabriel Leifer’s triple-double to a 21st consecutive victory.
Bar Alluf and Dani Katz were the main contributors for Yeshiva in the early going, as the duo combined for nine points and two assists in the first four minutes. A personal 7-0 run by Ofek Reef expanded the Macs’ lead to 21-13 with 12 ½ minutes on the clock. Bears’ Coach Joseph Cocozello, frustrated with his team’s lackadaisical effort on defense against the Macs’ transition game, called his second timeout of the half.
YU continued their offensive attack, and an incredible behind-the-back pass from Leifer to Caleb Milobsky brought the passionate fans at the Max Stern Athletic Center to their feet. A few possessions later, Caleb would once again be on the receiving end of a nice pass, as Alluf hit a cutting Milobsky for an easy layup. This extended Yeshiva’s advantage to 34-20 with seven minutes remaining in the period.
St. Joseph’s would score six consecutive points, cutting the YU lead down to eight. However, that is the closest the Bears would get for the rest of the game. A 12-4 Yeshiva run down the stretch, highlighted by threes from Eitan and Simcha Halpert, put the Macs up 48-34 at the half.
In the second period, YU took over. The Macs made 15 of their first 20 shots of the half, and turned a 14 point lead into 32. With the motion offense working to perfection, the Bears were simply outplayed on nearly every possession. Yeshiva was dominating from both inside and behind the arc, and they could not keep up with the Macs.
With 6 ½ minutes remaining in the game, Coach Elliot Steinmetz, knowing that Leifer was two points away from a triple-double, placed him onto the floor for one possession. Leifer got fouled, and went to the line for two shots.
“Honestly, one of the most pressuring foul shots I’ve ever taken in my career,” Leifer told MacsLive after the game. Yet, as he always does, Gabe got it done under pressure, and knocked down both of his attempts. He would come out of the game, finishing with 11 assists, 11 rebounds, and 10 points.
The Macs would go on to win by a final score of 94-62, extending their winning streak to 21 games. Turell finished with 15 points on perfect 7-7 shooting, and is just 10 away from the 1000 mark. Eight Macs scored eight or more points; Ofek Reef led the way with 18 in just 14 minutes.
The Post-Game Keys to Victory
Three main things pushed the Macs to another win tonight. Firstly, YU played north-to-south against St. Joseph’s 2-2-1 press. Not only did they break the press, but the Macs were able to create scoring opportunities on the fast break by pushing the ball up the court. Secondly, the Macs did not give room to the Bears’ shooters, and forced a team in St. Joseph’s which is quick to settle for tough shots into mistakes. Lastly, the Bears tried to facilitate the ball through Chris Mikos and others from the high post to the low post. The Macs were able to stop this, primarily by pressuring the ball. All in all, it was another outstanding performance from this Yeshiva team.
We’re Number 1!
If the Macs wanted to clinch the one seed in the Skyline Conference on Tuesday, they would need three things to go right. Lo and behold, they all did, and with the combination of YU’s win, Purchase’s loss against Sarah Lawrence, and Old Westbury’s defeat at the hands of Farmingdale State, the Macs have clinched home-court advantage throughout the Skyline Conference playoffs. This is the first time in YU history that they have captured the one seed; after it escaped the Macs’ grasp last season, many fans are relieved to see it secured with three games remaining.
The Maccabees will get a much deserved break, as they are off from competitive basketball until Saturday night. They will face Farmingdale State at 8:30 PM, in a matchup which is sure to bring back memories of last year. MacsLive will broadcast that home game, and if you are unable to make it to the MAX, be sure to watch!