Updated: Feb 7
On Wednesday night, the #22 Maccabees traveled to Mount Saint Mary College for their fifth game in nine days. For the first 32 minutes, the Macs struggled immensely, and the Knights took advantage of their sloppy play; YU was only up one with eight to go. However, the Macs’ offense would wake up, and in the span of three minutes, go on a 12-0 run. That was enough for Yeshiva to pull away, and they would proceed to win their 19th straight by a final tally of 82-65.
Both teams converted on their first four shot attempts of the contest, and just 2:20 into the game, the score was 9-9. Although the Macs were knocking down their shots, they were falling asleep on the defensive end. On one occasion, 6’8” forward Ethan Fox—who is hard to miss—was left completely alone underneath the basket; on others, the Macs were slow to react to movement, and let the Knights attack them. This explains why, despite being tied, Coach Elliot Steinmetz called timeout.
The Macs’ issues continued out of the timeout, as they were making terrible passes and not defending the Knights. However, the law of averages caught up to Mount Saint Mary, which missed five of their next seven shots. With 13 minutes on the clock, Gabriel Leifer muscled his way home for two, giving the Macs a 15-13 advantage.
One way which the Knights took advantage of the Macs’ tired legs was by pushing the ball in transition. They did just that when Jameson Morton stole the ball from Leifer, and Tristan Millett knocked down an open three. One minute later, a sloppy pass from Eitan Halpert led to an easy fast break layup for Paul Sienke. The Macs would score six straight points, as, besides for the turnovers, they were performing well on the offensive side of the ball. However, when Ryan Turell’s layup missed the mark, they ran down the court, and what was effectively a 2-on-0 resulted in an easy bucket for Zack Swaby. An Ofek Reef turnover was the Macs 6th of the night, and Nick Lucas took his own steal in for two. With 9 minutes remaining in the half, YU was on top by just one point.
With the shot clock winding down, Leifer nailed a triple, extending the YU lead to four. Swaby responded with an and-one, but Turell answered with a beautiful turnaround jumper. Towards the end of the half, the Macs would start to get something going, but not in an anticipated fashion; they began to drive middle, and the normally solid Knights’ interior defense had issues stopping it. Typically, the Knights play a pack line man-to-man, but they went away from it tonight; when the Macs saw lanes to drive to the rim, they did not hesitate. Bar Alluf, Simcha Halpert, and Turell all got in on the action, with the Israeli native also drilling a three-pointer. A Turell spin move with 90 seconds left in the half resulted in an and-one, and Yeshiva went into the locker room up 42-34.
In the first period, the Macs committed 13 turnovers—practically all on poor passes or travels—and only the Knights’ inability to hit open shots was keeping YU in the lead. Turell shot 7-10 in the first 20 minutes, and topped all scorers with 15 points. Alluf added 9, while going a perfect 4-4 from the field.
Although Yeshiva played better to start the second half, the Knights stuck right with the Macs, and avoided more than a 10-point deficit. With the score at 53-47, Ofek Reef came flying in on a fast break, and went up for a killer slam dunk. One may have thought that this would completely turn the momentum arrow in YU’s direction, and for a few minutes, it appeared as if this was the case. Simcha Halpert’s shot fake and beautiful one-handed floater made it 59-50 Macs, and the Knights called timeout.
Whatever Coach Kadlubowski said in the huddle must have worked, because the Knights scored on their next four possessions, and found themselves within one point of the lead. Not only were their shots falling, but Mount Saint Mary was doing a fantastic job of playing with active hands. They were blocking and tipping Yeshiva passes, and on numerous occasions disrupted the flow of the Macs’ offense by knocking the ball out of a YU player’s hands.
That’s when the game turned 180 degrees. First, Turell went to his classic turnaround jumper, which fell through for two. One minute later, Simcha Halpert hit a baseline J, extending the YU lead to five. The Knights’ offense could not get anything going, and two consecutive Turell layups made the score 67-58. Then, on the possession, Sim stole the rock, leading to a basket for Leifer; the Knights, in total disarray on both sides of the ball, called timeout.
With 4:40 to go, Turell got free inside, and his two-pointer finished off a 12-0 YU run which spanned just three minutes. Five straight points put the Knights within eight, but that’s the closest they would get the rest of the way. Eight consecutive YU points in just 65 seconds sealed the deal, as the Macs were up 79-63 with one minute to go. When the final buzzer sounded, the scoreboard read #22 YU 82, MSMC 65.
Ryan Turell led the way for the Macs, scoring 30 points on 13-20 shooting. Bar Alluf and Dani Katz went a combined 7-7 from the floor, and 2-2 from deep. Every other Maccabee struggled tonight, as Simcha Halpert couldn’t buy a shot from behind the arc and Gabe Leifer struggled to finish inside.
A Win is a Win
It may not have been pretty, but at the end of the day, the Macs extended their winning streak to 19 games. There were numerous factors which contributed to the ugliness of YU’s play tonight, but the most obvious was that their schedule has been absolutely brutal as of late, resulting in no days off. Additionally, The Mount is a tough environment to play at; this was YU’s first win in Newburgh since 2014.
Throughout the night, the Macs struggled defensively, be it by not communicating, failing to hedge, or simply falling asleep and leaving a man wide open. With the ball in their hands, Yeshiva committed 24 turnovers, a simply unacceptable number. They also did not do well to move without the ball, and cut with a purpose much fewer times than Coach Steinmetz probably wanted to see. Yet Yeshiva made plays when it counted, going on a 12-0 run to pull away late, and that is the sign of a great team.
The Macs will return home on Saturday, when they will face off against the College of Mount Saint Vincent on Alumni Night. Their next three games will be played in the friendly confines of the Max Stern Athletic Center, and we will be with you for all of them. Tip off for the game against CMSV is at 8:30.