There was no 50-game winning streak to break this year, but the Illinois Wesleyan Titans once again defeated the Yeshiva University Maccabees. This rendition of the matchup, however, looked far different from last year’s. For starters, this game took place on the Titans’ home turf. More importantly, though, the Macs managed to gain a lead several times, nearly upsetting IWU. The Titans had serious scoring troubles, and rebounds seemed to continuously elude the Macs, but perhaps the most notable standout of the game was Zevi Samet thrusting himself into being a leader for the team, not to mention becoming their best shooter.
Immediately flipping the script from their match against IWU last year, where they trailed for the entirety of the game, the Macs grabbed the first lead of the game on a Roy Itcovichi layup. Soon after, Dothan Bardichev landed a three-pointer, putting the Macs up 7-3. The Titans quickly came back and put themselves up on the Macs 25-17, with just over six minutes remaining in the first half. Amidst numerous failed three-point attempts, YU went on a 12-0 run. Zevi Samet capped it off with a three-pointer, putting the Macs ahead by four with over four minutes to go before halftime. The Titans then flipped the script back and Nick Roper made a fast-break, buzzer-beating three-pointer to end the half on top, 37-36.
The second half was a series of the Macs repeatedly coming very close to overtaking the lead but never actually managing to take it. A good three-pointer from Daniel Margusov placed the Macs within three with under 14 minutes to go, but the Titans quickly pulled back away. Four minutes later, Samet drained another three, once again putting YU within three, but IWU did not give. Another four minutes later, Samet made a layup, getting within two points this time, but the Titans then achieved a 7-point lead. Tasting a comeback, Samet drained a three-pointer with 32 seconds remaining. Unfortunately for the Macs, their valiant effort came to an end when the Titans went back up by five points to finish off the game, winning 76-71.
One of the most obvious trends of the game was YU’s continuous weakness at picking up rebounds. IWU compiled 44 rebounds throughout the game, while YU managed just over half of that, with 23. The Titans missed multiple shots but kept regaining possession because of the Macs’ issues with rebounds. At one point, Lucas Heflin was allowed to miss two consecutive three-point attempts before Cody Mitchell missed another, after which Evan Schneider finally drained a jumper.
Titans’ Three-Point Shooting
When the two teams met last season, IWU made 10 of 23 three-pointers: a rate of 43.5%. This time around, the Titans experienced a drastic regression, only making five of 26 three-pointers: a rate of 19.2%. Thankfully for IWU, this trend did not lead to its defeat, but against a future, more experienced opponent, this problem is bound to lead to trouble.
The Macs may have lost, but Zevi Samet inserting himself into what appeared to be a key leadership role, as well as being the team’s highest scorer, should prove to be extremely important for the young roster’s cohesion and future performance. The sophomore guard was seen multiple times gathering his teammates and giving them a pep talk. One such time was after a foul was called against Margusov and Samet quickly called the team together to give them a morale boost.
For Illinois Wesleyan (1-0, 0-0 CCIW):
Harrison Wilmsen led the Titans with 19 points, while also managing seven rebounds.
Ryan Sroka also gathered seven rebounds and scored 16 points.
The Titans were good on 44.4% of field goals, 19.2% of three-pointers, and 88.2% of their free throws.
For Yeshiva (0-2, 0-0 Skyline):
Going 15-29 on field goals and 8-19 on three-pointers, Samet led the Macs with an impressive 38 points.
Matan Zucker gathered six rebounds while also earning six points.
The Macs shot 49.2% field goals, 40.6% from behind the arc, and missed all four of their three-pointers.
In their next step as part of the Jack Sikma Hall of Fame Invitational, the Macs will face the Webster University Gorloks on Sunday in the Shirk Center at 2 PM.