Magic Merkin Comes Up Clutch; Macs Battle for Gritty Win
By Eitan Northman
Sammy Merkin hit two massive three pointers late in the fourth quarter, and Yeshiva overcame a tough Rochester team for 70-63 win in the first-ever matchup between the two schools.
How it Happened:
The Macs were hot early, going on an 11-0 run over a 4-minute stretch. The run was started with a big three-pointer from Markovich and capped with Matan Zucker’s second bucket of the night.
Rochester looked to be starting to pull away, YU tied things up with a Leifer three-pointer that took its time on the rim before it finally decided to drop in. The bucket leveled the score at 24 with just under three minutes left in the half.
The half ended tied at 26, with Leifer and Turell both struggling to hit shots. The pair combined for 9 points on 4-16 shooting.
After 6 lead changes in 4 minutes, Halpert hit a tough fadeaway jumper to pull YU even with Rochester at 43 with 10:00 minutes remaining in a competitive second half.
Rochester’s Algier capped an and-1 and a short while later hit two more free throws to keep Rochester in the game with 3:00 minutes remaining.
Sammy Merkin stepped up big with his first points of the night, coming by way of a three-pointer with 2:45 to go, and putting the macs back up by 2 with 2:45 remaining.
Turell and Rochester’s Price exchanged tough jumpers to bring the score to 58-57 with just under 2:00 remaining in the game.
Sammy Merkin then let it fly for his second 3 pointer, putting the Macs up by 4 (61-57) with 1:30 remaining.
Turrell extended the lead to 6 with a made jumper with 48 seconds to go.
Messy Motion Offense
The first most obviously noticeable element of play for YU was offensive sloppiness. Yeshiva set unenthusiastic offball screens and were caught in isolation offense and ball watching far more than usual. The Macs shot the ball at just over 40% and turned the ball over 8 times. It didn’t help that the Macs were missing both layups and free throws in abundance (14-24 FT).
The Rochester defense deserves a lot of credit for holding Yeshiva to just 70 points, 26 points below their season average. The Yellow Jackets' length forced tough looks and their imposing and physical presence limited Turell and Leifer’s size, holding Yeshiva’s stars to a combined 32 points on 11-33 shooting.
Despite their offensive struggles, the Macs battled on both sides of the floor, but particularly defensively. For the most, the Macs kept Rochester out of the paint and forced them to settle for three pointers where they shot just 4-18. Man pressure forced 14 turnovers out of the Yellow Jackets’ offense and the undersized Macs rebounded the ball exceptionally well, out rebounding Rochester 40-38 (10 offensive).
Although the Macs were clearly frustrated offensively, their defense and determination kept them in the game, pathing the way for some clutch shooting.
Columbia transfer Sammy Merkin had played in very limited minutes over the first two games, but with Ofek Reef’s absence, Coach Steinmetz turned to Merkin for big minutes late in the fourth quarter.
With the Macs down 1 and just under 3 minutes remaining, Sammy picked a great time to score his first points of the season, knocking down a clutch three pointer to give Yeshiva a 2 point lead.
Around a minute later the ball found Merkin again in the corner and he drilled it, giving the Macs a four point lead with 1:30 remaining.
While maybe unexpected for Macs Nation, Steinmetz clearly showed a high level of trust in the graduate student, and credit Sammy for staying ready and burying the clutchest shots of the game.
Rochester’s Algier finished the game with an impressive 20 points and 9 rebounds.
Both Noorsidj and Algier ended up with fouls in a tight game that kept them playing conservatively so as not to foul out.
Matt Niemczura had 3 blocks and Rochester finished with 6 blocks as a team.
The YellowJackets shot 22-56 (4-18 3PT) and went 15-19 from free throw land.
Halpert led the Macs scoring with 17 points. Turell had 16 points and seven assists and Leifer had an impressive 16 points to go along with 13 rebounds.
Matan Zucker had 12 points and 9 rebounds before fouling out in the second half.
Yeshiva outrebounded Rochester 40-38 and on the offensive glass they came away with 10 offensive boards helping them to much needed second chance points.
Up next for the Macs:
The Macs host USMMA Wednesday night at 8 pm. Tune in to Macslive.com for coverage of the game.