The Macs headed to Bethlehem, Pennsylvania on Thursday night for an out-of-conference matchup against Moravian College. The game was tight throughout, as neither team led by more than five points until there were fewer than six minutes left. A C.J. Barnes trey cut the YU lead to 77-76 with 59 seconds on the clock, but the Macs held on, and were victorious by a final score of 85-78.
The first 20 minutes were filled with back-and-forth action, as momentum was tough to establish for both sides. A three-pointer by Greg Eck put the Greyhounds up 8-3 in the early going, but the Macs responded with a 10-3 run, as Yeshiva took a two point lead.
With 9 minutes to go in the half, Gabriel Leifer knocked down a three from the left wing, but Addis Ralph responded with a trey of his own. A couple of possessions later, Ryan Turell hit a cutting Ofek Reef, who slammed it home; on the ensuing possession, Reef took a charge. However, C.J. Barnes would answer with a three, and with 6 ½ to go in the period, the Greyhounds led by four.
A Simcha Halpert lefty layup put the Macs in front, 33-32, with 1:51 on the clock. Following a pair of Leifer free throws, Barnes nailed a shot from way beyond the arc, knotting the score at 35 apiece. With 23 seconds on the clock, Turell layed it in to give YU the two point advantage. Moravian held for one, but Keith Otto was blocked by Turell, and Reef picked up the ball. He hit Halpert, who flung up a three from midcourt. The shot hit nothing but net, and with the Macs up 40-35, Yeshiva had their biggest lead of the game.
YU struggled at the beginning of the second period, and the Greyhounds went on an 8-0 run to start the half. Turell scored down low, then went coast-to-coast off of a Moravian miss, giving the lead back to Yeshiva. After a Matt O’Connor jump shot briefly put the Greyhounds back in front, Leifer found Turell in the paint, and the Macs led 46-45. On the next YU possession, Reef drove to the basket for an and-one; he drained his shot from the charity stripe, and Yeshiva led by four.
Moravian refused to go away, and an 11-4 run gave the Greyhounds a 56-53 lead with 11 ½ to go. After the two teams traded baskets, Halpert drilled a three to tie the game. On the Macs next time down the court, Turell made a beautiful midair adjustment and finished a fantastic driving layup. Leifer then proceeded to tip in his own miss, and the YU advantage was once more four.
The Greyhounds then went on a 5-0 mini-run, as the lead switched hands again. A Halpert three gave Yeshiva back the lead with 6:46 remaining, and after a Moravian free throw, Reef hit a deep trey with the shot clock running down. A Leifer layup and Halpert bucket off of a home run pass by Gabe made the score 75-67, and with his team facing their largest deficit of the game, Coach Postiglione called timeout.
The team from Bethlehem scored the next six points, and with the Macs looking confused, Coach Steinmetz burned a timeout. A Turell layup made the YU lead four, but Barnes hit a clutch three from the corner, cutting it to one with 59 seconds left. The Macs appeared to be ready for some strategic basketball, as a 2-for-1 opportunity presented itself. However, with plenty of time remaining on the shot clock, Reef found himself wide open for three, and correctly opted to shoot. He missed, but the ball went right to Leifer, who tipped it in, giving the Macs a three-point lead.
On the other end of the court, Moravian forced up a three, and after it went wide of the mark; they were forced to foul Yeshiva. Halpert, one of the best free throw shooters in college basketball, hit both ends of an all-important one-and-one. With 12 seconds left, Moravian cut the lead to three, but Turell hit two free throws to ice the game. When the buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read Yeshiva 85, Moravian 78.
In his third game back from an ankle injury, Ryan Turell looked his old self, scoring 31 points while dominating inside. Gabe Leifer put up an incredible statline of 14 points, 21 rebounds, 8 assists, and 3 blocks. Simcha Halpert had 21 points, while Ofek Reef added 15. Only seven players hit the court for the Macs tonight, the lowest for YU since 2017. Six different players scored in double digits for the Greyhounds, who had a very balanced attack tonight.
The Macs extended their winning streak to 12 with tonight’s victory. Yeshiva not only has the most wins in all of Division III at the moment, but the Macs are also tied with Liberty University for the longest winning streak in all levels of the NCAA this season (both teams’ streaks are intact). The Macs went 22-4 in the 2019 calendar year, and are 30-4 since losing to Mount Saint Mary College on November 29, 2018. The rapid rise of this YU program has been amazing to witness.
Finals are upon us here at Yeshiva University. The YU student-athletes will now take a well-deserved break from competitive basketball to focus on their academic studies. “It’s obviously a lot of balance, but if you’re committed to school it’s manageable,” said Leifer about having to transition directly from a 12-game winning streak into finals season. It probably isn’t a good idea to doubt the words of a man averaging a double-double, so we’ll trust Gabe on this one.
The Macs will return to the court on January 22, when they face Maritime College. YU’s next home game is on Saturday, January 25 at 8:30 PM.
Everyone at MacsLive wishes you a Happy Chanukah and new year. Let’s Go Macs, and see you in 2020!