On Tuesday afternoon, the #22 Yeshiva University Maccabees made the three-hour trip to Massachusetts to take on the Williams College Ephs. Despite being down 10 at halftime, the Ephs slowly but surely cut into the Macs lead, and knotted the contest up at 56 with 7 minutes to go. Caleb Milobsky knocked down a huge trey immediately after a Williams College timeout, and Yeshiva would never look back. Every time the Ephs got within a few points the rest of the way, the Macs would respond; a Ryan Turell pivoting floater put YU up five with under a minute on the clock. The Macs converted all six of their free throw attempts in the final 30 seconds—with each pair coming on a one-and-one—sending them to their 18th straight victory, 77-68.
“My mentality was to not rush anything, and take good shots,” said Milobsky, whose outstanding shooting from behind the arc changed the trajectory of this game. “I’m playing with four other scorers, so there’s no need to rush anything, but when I got open looks I was pulling [the trigger].”
6’8”, 250 pound center Matt Karpowicz was a force early on, as he used his height advantage and an excellent hook shot to score the first six points for Williams. Although the Macs were struggling to run their offense early on, and were somewhat apprehensive, Ryan Turell and Dani Katz both hit threes, as the YU forward dared Karpowicz to exit the paint.
Simcha Halpert would follow up Katz’s trey by nailing one of his own; Milobsky got in on the outside action as well, draining one over the outstretched arm of Karpowicz. Williams would end up sticking to their scouting report against Caleb, doing little to contest his shots from deep, and the second-year forward would make them pay throughout the night. A Henry Feinberg layup with 12 minutes remaining in the half were the first points for Williams which didn’t come from either the four or the five, and tied the game at 16 apiece.
The Macs began to settle in, as Ofek Reef and Gabe Leifer got inside shots to go, and Eitan Halpert made a corner three. Following a Turell fadeaway jumper, Mickey Babek connected on a trey, the first basket for the Ephs which didn’t come in the paint. Babek would be the only Williams player to make a three-pointer all night, as his teammates went an abysmal 0-14 from behind the arc. Just a few minutes later, the Macs would over-help on a Cole Prowitt-Smith’s baseline drive, resulting in an open triple for Babek. The senior guard connected on the shot, and with 5:45 on the clock, Yeshiva’s lead was trimmed to one.
Throughout the game, the Macs used up a good chunk of the shot clock on each possession, as they tried to break down the Williams defense. This was especially true at the end of the first period, when the Macs shot the ball with 12 or fewer seconds remaining practically every time down the court. As such, Yeshiva slowly but surely extended their advantage, and with a couple of ticks left on the game clock, they were up 35-28. An inbounds pass from behind the basket went to Turell, who was totally guarded, and had no separation whatsoever. Incredibly, his three-point attempt hit nothing but net, just as the buzzer sounded. The Macs closed the half on an 11-2 run, and were on the verge of pulling away from Williams.
Karpowicz started the second period just like he did the first, by going to his unguardable hook shot. He followed that up by getting a layup to go off a post feed from Babek, and after two free throws from Jovan Jones, the Ephs were within four. Turell’s second fadeaway J of the day would momentarily stop the bleeding, but Williams would not go away. Karpowicz’s fourth bucket of the second half—a beautiful floater which resulted from a nice post move—cut the YU lead to four again, with 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
That’s when Milobsky reminded the Ephs that he could shoot from downtown. His two threes—with a Nate Karren and-one sandwiched in between—extended the Yeshiva advantage to seven. However, Williams once again responded, and a couple of Babek treys brought the Ephs to within one. After the two teams traded layups, Karpowicz sank one of two from the charity stripe, tying the game at 56 all, with seven minutes to go.
Milobsky, who was already in the midst of a career night, proceeded to knock down his fourth triple of the game, on just five attempts. Eitan Halpert, who contributed heavily to Yeshiva’s improvement in screening and spacing the floor in the second half, then went up-and-under for a highlight-worthy layup, but Babek once again responded for the Ephs from deep. On the other end of the court, with the shot clock running down, Simcha Halpert found Caleb in the right corner. The 6’6” big man drilled the shot, sending the Macs’ bench into a frenzy.
Williams had no quit in them, however, and cut the Yeshiva lead down to two just moments later. Fortunately for the Macs, Sim found his stroke at the perfect moment, as the senior nailed a three from the same spot as Milobsky just had. Karpowicz and Turell would trade mid-range jump shots, but the Williams’ center bullied his way home on the next possession, cutting the YU lead to 69-66. After a Yeshiva turnover, the Ephs had a shot to tie the game, but it clanked off the iron, and with 80 seconds remaining, the Macs had the ball up 3.
Sensing that his team needed a bucket, Ryan Turell took matters into his own hands. The sophomore guard made a fantastic spin move on his pivot foot, and his floater fell, extending the lead to five. Williams turned the ball over on the other end, and the Ephs fouled Simcha Halpert. This was Williams’ 7th foul, so the Macs would have to convert the front-ends of their free throws if they wanted to win this game.
Fortunately, when the game is on the line at the line, Sim is money. He swished both attempts from the charity stripe, and after the Ephs got two points, he did it again. Williams’ desperation three missed the mark, and Leifer closed the game out with two free throws of his own. The final score was 77-68, and the Macs players—particularly, the seniors—celebrated their first win over Williams in three tries.
For the Macs, Milobsky led the way with 19 points on 7-9 shooting from the floor, and was 5-6 from three. Leifer accumulated 12 points, 15 boards, and 7 assists over the course of the night, and Turell had 18 points. However, this win was undoubtedly a full team effort, as the motion offense created scoring opportunities which otherwise would not have existed. For Williams, Karpowicz led the way with 21 points on 10-15 shooting, while Babek had 17 while going 5-7 from behind the arc.
Not Perfect, but Good Enough
The Macs may have won, but don’t let that sway you away from the fact that they were anything but perfect tonight. This can be seen as both a positive and a negative—there is still much work to be done for the Macs, yet they were still able to defeat an extremely talented team, on the road.
Firstly, YU struggled to run their offense in the first half. On many possessions, the Macs didn’t spread out enough, which prevented their shooters from getting open. In addition, they failed to cut to the hole, something which, when executed later in the game, would allow them to continuously maintain a slim advantage in crunch time.
Throughout this matchup, the Macs did not get significant pressure on the ball handler, and this often made entries to Karpowicz in the post easy for the big man, who was rolling off of screens all night. Both Milobsky and Katz did a good job at bodying up Karpowicz, and although he made ⅔ of his shots from the floor, much of this was due to unguardable moves.
Williams is also really good at defending dribble penetration, something which the Macs don’t often run. However, the Macs still tried it a few times, only to get met by a wall of a human being. This wasted precious time on the shot clock, which limited the effectiveness of YU’s offense. Gabe Leifer also seemed to be a little bit afraid of going inside; he did go after the 6’5” Jones a couple of times, but had nothing on Karpowicz.
Defensively, the Macs did do a solid job of hedging, and allowed Williams numerous open three-pointers. All Ephs not named Babek couldn’t buy a 3 tonight, so the Macs did catch a small break. However, Williams isn’t a very good shooting team, and they simply weren’t able to beat the Macs with their weakness.
One tell-tale stat of Williams’ struggles tonight: they only had seven assists. Offensively, if Karpowicz wasn’t making something happen or Babek wasn’t taking a shot from deep, the Ephs weren’t able to do much of anything. Credit the Yeshiva defense somewhat here, as they played Williams tough and followed the gameplan well.
With the win, the Maccabees advance to 18-1 on the season, and have set a new program record with their 18th straight victory. On a night when only two games were played in all of DIII, and all eyes were on this contest, the Macs made a strong case to the NCAA Committee to be considered as a legitimate contender for the National Championship. This road win boosts YU’s Strength of Schedule, and puts the Macs on the map for a potential automatic bid. Yeshiva is also in great position to be #1 in the Regional Rankings, the first of which comes out next Tuesday. Lastly, the Macs have made an excellent case to the D3hoops.com voters to be a top 20 team come next week; as you may have noticed, YU jumped from 24 to 22 after defeating Sarah Lawrence, Purchase, and Manhattanville.
The Macs may have played four games in the last seven days, but they won’t have a chance to rest. On Wednesday night they will head to Mount Saint Mary College, the only Skyline team which they have yet to face this season. As always, we will have preview and recap coverage of that game.