Saturday was Senior Night at the Max Stern Athletic Center, as six Yeshiva players competed in the final regular season contest of their careers. The Macs had difficulty pulling away from St. Joseph’s College-Long Island, as the already-eliminated Golden Eagles left it all on the floor in their final game. A couple of YU players suffered ankle injuries, and the Golden Eagles sensed blood in the water. However, domination from Gabriel Leifer inside, clutch threes, and numerous fast break buckets provided Yeshiva the momentum they would need to get over the top, and the Macs won their 24th in a row.
Coach Elliot Steinmetz gave his seniors the nod to start the game, as Bar Alluf, Kevin Bokor, Simcha Halpert, Tyler Hod, and Dani Katz took the floor for tip off. Alluf and Bokor’s layups were the only points from the unit in the first few minutes, as the Macs trailed 8-4 when Gabriel Leifer and Ryan Turell came into the game. Two Turell treys provided a spark for Yeshiva, and the game was knotted up at 12 with 13 minutes on the clock.
The two teams continued to go back and forth, and a Leifer layup made the score 20-19 and gave Yeshiva their first lead of the game. 75 seconds later, 6’1” Ofek Reef skyed for a rebound between three St. Joseph’s players, and finished off the play with a layup. The Golden Eagles would experiment with a half court trap, but quickly exited when the Macs easily broke it. One of the Macs’ usual starters would soon after go down with what appeared to be an ankle injury, adding to the anxiousness of the home crowd. St. Joseph’s did not falter, and went into the locker room trailing by just two.
The second period began with a Simcha Halpert three-pointer. A few possessions later, Katz showed off his incredible court vision, finding Sim with a no-look bounce pass which resulted in two points. Back-to-back fast break layups from Alluf and Reef continued the Macs’ momentum. Leifer then worked his way inside for an and-one, as Frank Basile, the star of the Golden Eagles, picked up his fourth foul. Gabe converted on the free throw, making the YU run to start the half 12-2, and giving the Macs a 47-35 advantage. Unfortunately, another one of Yeshiva’s starters suffered an ankle injury, and Coach Steinmetz’s options off of a normally deep bench suddenly became extremely limited.
As the game turned chippy, St. Joseph’s capitalized on their opportunities, and cut Yeshiva’s lead to just two points. However, a technical foul by the Golden Eagles for their second flop of the game turned the tide. After Simcha Halpert knocked down the ensuing free throw, Leifer took over the game. He scored YU’s next nine points, as he bullied and muscled his way through the paint. A Halpert steal and score made Yeshiva’s run 12-1, and the Macs held a comfortable 13-point lead.
The Golden Eagles went cold from the floor, and on a poor shooting night, Sim got it done when it counted most. He buried a dagger three with 4:40 to go, forcing St. Joseph’s to call timeout. Yeshiva’s 18-point advantage would prove insurmountable, and two Alluf treys in the final minutes sealed the deal. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read “Yeshiva 83, SJCLI 69.”
Leifer led the way for the Maccabees, as he scored 18 points and grabbed 17 boards. Despite struggling from behind the arc, Simcha Halpert racked up 18 points as well. Reef provided immense energy off the bench, and scored 14. Turell, Alluf, and Caleb Milobsky tallied 10, 10, and 9 points, respectively. Only four players scored for the Golden Eagles all game, with seniors Jonah Caldwell, Frank Basile, and Doug Niblock accounting for 64 of their 69 points. Caldwell showed off his strength down low, while Basile knocked down some threes from well beyond the arc.
With the win, the Macs advance to 24-1 on the season, and finish conference play with a 16-0 record. #17 Yeshiva now has their eyes set on the Skyline Conference Championships, which will commence on Tuesday night. (1) YU will take on (8) US Merchant Marine Academy at 8:00 PM, in the Max Stern Athletic Center. To check out the matchups for the eight-team field, go to our men’s basketball page. In addition, be sure to stick with MacsLive.com, the broadcast home of the Yeshiva University Maccabees, for all coverage of the Macs’ playoff run.