Updated: Nov 28, 2019
The Macs returned to Washington Heights on Tuesday night, hoping to continue their hot start to the season. Yeshiva came in on a five-game winning streak, and to get to six they would have to beat a familiar foe in Old Westbury. The Panthers came in looking for revenge, after the Macs beat them in the Skyline Semifinals last year. The exciting game went back-and-forth, and the Macs held a three-point lead with 3 1/2 minutes to go. A Simcha Halpert three gave YU their largest lead of the matchup, and the Macs used free throws and solid play down the stretch to escape with the W.
The game started out slowly, as neither team could find a rhythm on offense. Gabe Leifer managed to earn the Macs’ first points with a three-pointer at 18:43. The scoring started to pick up around four minutes in, when the Macs were leading 10-9. Leifer got into foul trouble soon after this point, and had to sit out the final 13 minutes of the half. With Leifer off the floor, Old Westbury started to play aggressively, and they pulled ahead 22-15 by the 12:16 mark. The Macs were making careless mistakes, turning the ball over 7 times in 8 minutes, and Old Westbury was capitalizing. The Macs brought the score to within two, but that was followed up by back-to-back buckets for Old Westbury, who led 26-20 halfway through the first half.
The scoring went dry again, as the only points for the next two minutes were via the free-throw. A Turell three followed by a bounce-pass that gave Bar Alluf an easy two tied the game at 31. The two teams traded blows, and then stalled at 34 each as the half started to wind down. Turell gave the Macs the lead when he scored both of his attempts from the charity stripe with 2:33 left to give YU a 36-34 lead. Old Westbury responded on a careless turnover to tie the game again. A Caleb Milobsky block followed by a Turell dunk appeared to be enough to send YU to the locker room with a lead, but an Andrew Buskey three-pointer gave Old Westbury the halftime advantage, 39-38.
Ryan Turell, who twisted his ankle at the end of the first half, showed off his toughness, as he pivoted to score the first points of the second period. The Macs were able to extend their lead with strong play inside, featuring Milobsky. Yeshiva took a 50-45 lead four minutes into the half. Old Westbury then went on an 11-3 run that gave them a 56-53 lead with 13:21 remaining in the game. The Macs regained the lead after Alluf and Ofek Reef knocked down a couple of key buckets, but with nine minutes remaining, they only led 63-62. A 7-2 run caused many to believe that the Macs would pull away, but Cameron Winston nailed a three to make the score 70-67. Gabe Leifer was putting on a scoring clinic down low, as he utilized the post throughout the half. Yet his twos were being responded to by Old Westbury threes, and the Macs held a slim 74-70 lead with five minutes left in the game.
Turell put YU back up seven when he hit a three as the shot clock wound down, but Pedro Marquez responded with a three of his own. YU started to gain momentum, as Reef nailed a shot, followed by a huge Halpert three. Ofek tried and just came short of flying and slamming one down, but Turell got the rebound and the easy score. Suddenly, the Macs had their first double-digit lead, with just two minutes remaining in the game. The last minute of the game would be defined by Yeshiva’s ability to hit free-throws, Old Westbury started to press and then foul. The Macs executed their foul shots to put the game out of hand. The final score was 94-79, but the game was much closer than the tally says. Old Westbury put up a strong fight, and only in the last few minutes did the Macs pull away for the victory.
Coach Steinmetz was very impressed with the win. "Our guys showed toughness down the stretch against a really talented and athletic Old Westbury team," he said. "We got it done tonight by playing defense and getting tough stops," Turell told MacsLive after the game. "We stayed patient, got our reversals in, and got the ball to the right guy. We're a tough team... fatigue doesn't bother us."
For the Macs, Ryan Turell led the way with 30 points, most of which came in the first half. Gabe Leifer made up for his early first half exit by scoring 20 points in the game. Simcha Halpert shot 4-6 from behind the arc, as the sharpshooter finished with 14 points. For Old Westbury, Pedro Marquez and Cameron Winston had 17 and 16, respectively. Justin Alleyne-Washington and Pierce Perry had 14 points each; Perry had three thunderous dunks, and nearly threw down another. Charles Wingate added 13 in the losing effort.
Was this game supposed to be close?
We knew that Old Westbury was a good team, but didn’t realize that they were this good. All five of the Panthers’ starters scored 13 or more points, and played physical defense while using their athleticism to create excellent scoring opportunities. Old Westbury came prepared, and nearly pulled off the massive upset. They ran down the floor in transition, and hit their shots in the fast break. They pressed and distracted the Macs, forcing numerous turnovers. They anticipated many passes, and picked them off. Their top players were able to penetrate the Macs’ defense, and make tough shots inside.
Old Westbury clearly showed tonight that they can compete with any team. However, at the end of the day, it was the Macs ability to shoot the 3 at a high percentage which allowed YU to pull away. Old Westbury shot over 60% on two-pointers, but only 31% from 3. Old Westbury is a better team than last year, and will be a force to be reckoned with in the Skyline Conference. The question for them going forward is if they can shoot the three ball at a better rate. If they can, we will be in for a fun time when the conference playoffs come around.
The Macs get a week to rest from tonight’s exhausting win, as their next game is on Tuesday against St. Joseph’s College-Brooklyn. That game is part of a stretch of three games in six days for the Macs, who are starting to settle into the thick of things as the calendar changes from November to December. Make sure to check out our YouTube page (MacsLive) tomorrow for full game footage, as well as awesome highlights. Have a Happy Thanksgiving!