Excitement and energy was abound at the Max Stern Athletic Center on Thursday night, as the Maccabees held their home opener against Brooklyn College. Having just won three consecutive road games, the Macs hoped to make the Yeshiva faithful proud on their home court. YU went into the locker room up 47-31, and all seemed to be good. Yet Brooklyn would come out of the second half on a 16-3 run, and threatened to take their first lead of the game. However, YU responded with a 17-6 run of their own. The Macs would pull away late, and went on to win by a final score of 98-74.
Ryan Turell dunked immediately off of the opening tip, sending the message that YU was going to score early and often. Simcha Halpert and Turell each hit threes, and with 16 to go in the 1st, the Macs led 14-6. Early on, YU was hitting their shots, but failed to get multiple rebounds, which let Brooklyn stay in the game. Halpert drained another triple with 13 minutes remaining in the half to extend the YU lead to 23-11. Brooklyn needed to use quick passes and screens in order to create scoring opportunities, due to their lack of height. The size difference proved itself when Gabe Leifer out-muscled Brooklyn for an offensive rebound; this set up a score by Jeff Owen, giving the Macs a 10-point lead halfway through the first half.
The Macs continued to pull away towards the end of the half. Halpert nailed another three to put Yeshiva ahead 36-20. Gabe Leifer hit a three of his own with 5:20 on the clock, and a Milobsky layup extended the lead to 41-20. The Macs went into the locker room with a 47-31 advantage.
The beginning of the second half saw Brooklyn catch fire. They started with a 11-3 run, forcing Coach Steinmetz to call timeout with 16:43 on the clock. Shortly after the timeout, Brooklyn sunk a three-pointer, followed by another open score, bringing the game to 50-47. Turell ended the scoring drought with a successful and-one. A Leifer putback and Ofek Reef post-up allowed the Macs to regain a 10 point lead. After back-and-forth play, two more triples by Halpert put the Macs up by 15. Halfway through the second half, YU was up 73-57. The large lead remained, and with seven minutes left in the game, the fans became content and satisfied with the inevitable outcome. The final score was 98-74, which gives the Macs a 4-1 start to the season and a four-game winning streak.
Ryan Turell led the way for Yeshiva, with 25 points and 10 rebounds. Ryan continued his outstanding early season pace from inside the arc, hitting 9 of 13 attempts, bringing his season percentage in that category to 81.1%. Leifer had 23 points, 12 rebounds, 9 assists, and 6 blocks in the 2018-19 Skyline MVP’s best performance of the year. Simcha Halpert was 5-8 from three, as he appeared comfortable in front of the home crowd. Caleb Milobsky and Ofek Reef had 13 each, while Max Liebowitz scored five points, the first of his collegiate career. Six Brooklyn players had 7+ points; Anthony McClean had 20. YU never trailed in the game.
How did the Macs execute tonight?
The Keys to the Game were “Take advantage of the matchups,” “Crash the boards,” and “Avoid foolish turnovers.” The Macs scored an absurd number of points near the hoop and on post-ups, and certainly took advantage of the size difference between the two teams. The Macs used beautiful passes to get easy buckets under the hoop. Turell, Milobsky, and Leifer all dominated inside. YU certainly took advantage of the matchups.
The Macs were struggling at the beginning of the game to get easy rebounds on both ends, but by the end of the half Leifer and Turell were setting the tone on the glass. However, overall the Macs did not do a great job at crashing the boards, and they picked up only 12 offensive rebounds against a tiny Brooklyn team. That said, it is tough to get offensive rebounds when all of your shots are going in, so we’ll give the Macs, who shot 58.3% tonight from the field, a pass on this one.
The Macs did commit some foolish turnovers, but these weren’t as egregious as in the past. YU had 15 in total for the game, and Brooklyn scored just as many points off of these turnovers. Prior to today, the season average for differential on points off of turnovers was -9.2; tonight it was just -4. This is still a place to improve as the season goes on.
YU outplayed Brooklyn College in every aspect of the game. Besides for the brief 16-3 run by Brooklyn to start the second half, the Macs controlled the entire matchup. Brooklyn played zone defense for the majority of the game, but with quick passing and dominance inside, the Macs cut through the zone like a butcher slices a rack of ribs. During their run at the beginning of period 2, Brooklyn switched their fastest player onto the Macs’ slowest; Coach Steinmetz saw this, and called a timeout to combat the Bulldogs’ strategy. It was a well-played and well-coached game overall.
The Macs will travel to Mount Saint Vincent on Saturday night, as they begin Skyline Conference play. MacsLive will not broadcast that game. The next home game will be on Tuesday, as the Macs play a familiar foe in Old Westbury. The Panthers will be looking for revenge after last season’s drubbing in the Skyline semifinals. Make sure to head to MacsLive.com on Saturday night for our gameday preview, recap, and in-game scoreboard, and to tune in on Tuesday.