The Macs headed to Maritime College on Wednesday night for their first game in nearly five weeks. Maritime kept the game close early on, but an extended 39-12 run allowed Yeshiva to pull away. The lead would balloon to 44 with a few minutes to go, and the Macs were eventually victorious by a score of 94-56.
One may have expected YU to be a little sloppy out of the gate, but that was not the case. The 6th most efficient offense in D3 (after adjusting for opponent strength) did not miss a beat tonight, and looked like the same team as the one which went on an incredible 12-game winning streak to close out 2019.
The Macs got on the board first, and a Gabe Leifer putback gave Yeshiva a 4-0 lead. A Brennan Whelan three-pointer cut the Maritime deficit to one, but that is the closest the Privateers would get all game. After a Brendan McGovern trey, Yeshiva went on a 13-0 run, finished off by an Ofek Reef and-one halfway through the opening period. In the first 10 minutes, Ryan Turell had five assists, and Maritime was struggling to track the Macs’ off-ball movement.
Back-to-back Simcha Halpert 3’s with two minutes on the clock completed an extended 39-12 run which spanned 11 ½ minutes. The Macs had built a seemingly insurmountable lead, and would go into the locker room up 59-30. At the half, Sim had 17 points, while Leifer and Turell had tallied 15 each.
YU started the second half off slow, only scoring five points in the first six minutes. The Macs then went on a 22-6 run, with Reef, Bar Alluf, and the Halpert brothers doing nearly all of the damage. The Privateers scored 10 of the final 14 points, but it was too little too late.
Yeshiva kept their starters in for most of the second half, as Coach Steinmetz wanted to get them as much competitive action possible. While he only scored three second-half points, Leifer would grab numerous rebounds, and picked up some assists on pretty looking passes. His 18 points tonight gives the star forward 984 in his career; there is an excellent chance that Gabe reaches the 1000 mark on Saturday night. Simcha Halpert scored 23 on 5-10 shooting from behind the arc, while Eitan had a perfect night, finishing with 8 points. Turell had 20 points and 6 boards, while Reef added 11 points. The Macs only turned the ball over 10 times tonight, well below their season average.
New Decade, Same Team--for the Most Part
The calendar may have flipped, but this is the same dominant Maccabees team that we saw last year. On the offensive side of the ball, the Macs looked sharp tonight, making fantastic off-ball movements and completing crisp passes. Yeshiva’s offense has not missed a beat, and that is, of course, a great sign for their long-term success.
More importantly, however, is how YU played on defense tonight, particularly in the first half. The Macs completely shut down middle drive, and forced Maritime to drive baseline and settle for long twos. Throughout the game, the Macs successfully boxed out; Maritime only grabbed four offensive boards. During their numerous runs, Yeshiva not only executed offensively; they effectively dictated every aspect of the game.
During last year’s historic 17-game winning streak, the Macs held their opponents to 60 points or less on nine occasions. The main reason for their success was their effort on the less glamorous side of the ball, and if YU wants to go places they have never been before, their defense needs to step it up, big time. The Macs are ranked outside of the top 150 in adjusted defensive efficiency this year, and it nearly cost them against teams such as NJCU, Eastern Connecticut State, and Moravian. Coach Steinmetz has stressed this numerous times in practice; it is good to see the Macs taking a step in the right direction to start the second half of the season.
With the win, the Macs improve to 13-1, and are 6-0 in Skyline conference play. Their next game will be at home (for just the fourth time this season), as they will take on United States Merchant Marine Academy on Saturday night. We advise that you make the trip to Washington Heights to see the Macs play and Leifer shoot for 1000 career points, but if you can’t come, MacsLive will have you covered.