The Macs moved to 5-0 on the season after an impressive 78-71 win versus the University of Saint Joseph Blue Jays in the first-ever matchup between the two schools. Eitan Halpert and Ryan Turell’s 40 combined points propelled Yeshiva to a victory over a top-25 caliber Blue Jays team that fought till the very end. The victory is the 34th consecutive win for Yeshiva, giving them the third highest winning-streak in DIII history according to D3hoops.com.
How it Happened:
Eitan Halpert came out firing, scoring the Macs’ first 7 points and ultimately setting the tone for Yeshiva’s offensive game.
Ofek Reef returned to the court for the first time in two games, putting up 8 points in the first half. Although Reef only played in the first half, his presence was crucial in giving the Macs a lead going into the half. Reef performed perfectly on offensive, giving himself and teammates opportunities under the rim.
The Macs ran their motion offense to perfection in the first half. Play after play, the screens and cuts created opportunities under the rim for guys like Eitan Halpert and Ofek Reef who made their presence known on the offensive side of the ball.
The Macs went into the half up 37-29, needing to shoot better beyond the arc in order to pull away early in the second half.
Roughly 3 minutes into the second half, the Blue Jays went on an 8-0 run and cut the Macs’ lead to 2 at a score of 44-42.
The Macs fouled the Blue Jays five times within the first four minutes of the second half, giving the Blue Jays opportunities for easy points.
After some back and forth in the beginning of the second half, Saint Joseph’s Jake Sullivan knocked down a jumper to pull the Blue Jays within two yet again, this time the score being 46-44.
After seeing their lead cut to two, Gabe Leifer and Oren Betesh answer with buckets of their own. With 11:56 to go in the game, Betesh hit a crucial 3-pointer to extend the lead to seven and give the Macs some much needed momentum.
Up five with 5:13 remaining, Eitan Halpert knocked down a critical 3-pointer to extend the Macs lead to 65-57. Then, on the next play, Ryan Turell hit a tough jumper in the face of a few defenders to give the Macs a double-digit lead.
Up only 74-69 with 44 seconds remaining, Turell, Leifer, and Zucker each knocked down free throws to essentially ice the game and help seal a 34th straight victory for the Macs.
Domination in the Paint
The bulk of Yeshiva’s success came within the paint. The Macs scored a whopping 44 points in the paint due to brilliant scheming and perfect execution.
Yeshiva’s motion offense opened up plenty of opportunities in the paint with the guards executing their cuts exactly as planned.
Gabe Leifer was a big reason for the success within the paint. Leifer facilitated the offense from under the rim, dishing out 9 assists and giving other guys prime scoring opportunities with his premier backdoor passing off of screens and guard cuts.
Defending the Fastbreak
Thanks to stellar transition defense, the Blue Jays couldn’t get much going in transition, scoring a mere 13 fastbreak points.
Because the Macs cracked down on many Blue Jay transition opportunities, Saint Joseph had to beat the Macs strictly within the half-court, which proved to be a task too tall to tackle.
Trouble Beyond the Arc:
Despite a few key 3-pointers, the Macs weren’t their typical selves beyond the arc, shooting a mere 26.3% from downtown.
Despite the subpar shooting, the Macs still found a path to victory, mainly by way of dominating the paint and pounding the ball to the hoop.
The players on the floor for Yeshiva embraced their roles within the motion offense, whether it be with general off-ball movement, screens and cuts, or lockdown defense.
The Macs finding a way to win on a poor shooting night puts the rest of DIII on notice. Whether it is with physicality, defense, or shooting galore, Yeshiva has shown it can find a different way to win every night, the markings of a true championship-caliber team.
For Saint Joseph:
Jordan Powell and Tyree Mitchell led the Blue Jays in scoring, putting up 20 and 19 respectively.
Jaecee Martin tallied an impressive 9 assists out of a total of 19 for the Blue Jays.
Jalen Samuels fouled out with 5:24 left in the game. In total, the Blue Jays fouled the Macs 18 times.
The Blue Jays shot 26-65 (40%) from the field and 5-14 (35.7%) from beyond the arc.
Saint Joseph won the overall rebound battle by a count of 40 to 35.
Ryan Turell and Eitan Halpert led the Macs with 20 points each.
Gabe Leifer almost put up another triple-double, tallying 13 points, 13 rebounds, and 9 assists and 4 blocks.
Despite only playing in the first half, Ofek Reef scored 8 points and shot 4-5 (80%) from the field.
The Macs led this game for 35 minutes and 6 seconds and their largest lead was 10 points.
Yeshiva shot 31-58 (53.4%) from the field and 5-19 (26.3%) from 3-point range.
Out of their 78 total points, 44 came from within the paint.
Up Next for the Macs;
Yeshiva and Saint Joseph are set to face each other again on Monday night at 7:00 PM for a rematch. However, this time the game will be played on Saint Joseph’s court in West Hartford, CT.