After much anticipation and high expectations, the YU Macabees began their season in hopes of winning their second Skyline Championship in three years. However, everything came crashing down Saturday night, as a good Occidental team took the Macs to school, en route to a 72-60 victory. While YU would only lose by 12, the Macs trailed by 28 with 12 minutes remaining in the game.
The Macs started off the game with numerous mistakes, and trailed 6-0 early. Yeshiva didn’t get their first points until four minutes in, when Eitan Halpert hit a three-pointer. The scoring then started to pick up, as both teams traded blows. Oxy led 13-10 when the Tigers took their first timeout with 13:53 remaining in the first half.
The Macs slowly but surely clawed away at the Tigers’ lead, and finally tied the game at 22 with 9:09 left in the half, with the assistance of five three-pointers from four different players. That was as close as YU would get, as Oxy outscored the Macs 23-7 to close the half leading 45-29. The Macs would never lead in the game.
Jacob Adler led the scoring for Oxy with 12 points in the first half. More notably, the Tigers went 7-11 from behind the arc. Sydney Shipp contributed massively for Oxy off the bench, hitting three 3’s before halftime.
The second half is when things got ugly. 45-29 became 57-33 in just four minutes, and 64-36 by the 12 minute mark. The Macs went on a 12-0 run to narrow the gap to 16, but with just seven minutes left in the game, Oxy’s main goal was to run down the clock. The final tally was 72-60, but the score doesn’t show the true story of the domination that was displayed by the Tigers.
Ryan Turell and Gabe Leifer each led the way for Yeshiva, with 16 points apiece. Simcha Halpert could not get it going from deep, finishing 3-10 from behind the arc. Dani Katz was unable to play, as he suffered a minor hamstring injury on Friday. Bar Alluf came into the game off the bench, scoring 7 points in 18 minutes.
So What Went Wrong?
The Macs not only completely failed to execute their game plan, but they were also not prepared for this Oxy team. Throughout the game, Oxy set off-ball screens, which YU didn’t see coming. They also got caught ball-watching, losing their man in the process. This led to easy buckets, as well as simple cross-court passes and swings around the perimeter, which led to open 3’s. The Macs were eaten up alive by these screens and the quickness of the Tigers offense. The Macs also gave Oxy plenty of open looks from behind the arc, which is where most of the damage was done.
The three Keys to the Game were: “Don’t Let Oxy Get Comfortable”, “No Threes For You!”, and “Stop Yellin-Flaherty”. The Macs failed to execute on the first two; Yellin-Flaherty was good in the first half, but played poorly in the second. The top scorer for Oxy was Adler, who the Macs could simply not stop. Five Tigers players scored 9 or more points.
The Macs tried to press Oxy early, but the Tigers broke it easily with their speed and ball control. They got comfortable very quickly, and started draining 3’s with no end in sight. The Macs called off the press after a few minutes. Any space which the Macs gave the Tigers was taken advantage of.
At one point, Oxy was 9/13 from three. A cold spell down the stretch led to a less impressive line of 10/18. However, don’t let that get into your head. Oxy showed that they were the quicker, smarter, and better-shooting team. If the Macs want to have a successful season, they will need to clean up many issues which were on full display tonight.