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Yeshiva Roars Past Manhattanville, Secures Spot in Conference Finals

Or Sundjyvsky strolled over to the scorer's table and checked in for his buddy Effy Freundlich. The atmosphere was tense, with the Maccabees on the ropes and the Max Stern Athletic Center holding their breath. It was crunch time, and Yeshiva needed a hero. The pleas for victory included wounded Israeli soldiers, who were in the house and honored with a rousing standing ovation. Yet on this night, they, too, needed a Mac to light a pathway to victory. 


Then, in a flash, Tommy Lotito drove past Sundjyvsky and found Ryan Giordano to pull the Manhattanville Valiants even at 59, with just 8:25 separating the winner from the Skyline Conference Final. That’s when Sundjyvsky rekindled the crowd one final time. It may have been the last home game, but this season wasn’t ending here. Not on his watch. Not if his light switch had anything to say about it. 

He received a pass from Adi Markovich, drew a foul, and sank both free throws. Then, he drilled two clutch three-pointers before taking charge at the other end, sending Macsville into delirium.

And just for good measure, he drove hard to the hoop, finishing with a smooth layup. His fire sparked a 13-0 surge, propelling Yeshiva to an 80-68 triumph on Thursday night, punching their ticket to the Skyline Conference finals against Farmingdale State on Sunday.



“It feels amazing to play in front of these fans,” the sophomore who electrified the crowd by gesturing to them after each of his 15 points in 18 minutes told MacsLive. “I was injured and missed 13 games. Everyone doubted us, but we’re still dancing.” They danced and pranced all over the Valiants down the stretch. While Or was lighting it up at one end, the Manhattanville offense went dark at the other. Their coach told MacsLive he calls this gym a “House of Horrors” for his group, and it became evident why. They couldn’t buy a bucket for nearly six minutes, handcuffed by YU’s aggressive zone defense. When they finally did arise from their slumber, it was too late. Unlike last year’s semifinal, there was no home crowd to revive them. And as the game concluded, the Macs fans unleashed 364 days of pain with “hey hey goodbye” chants loud enough to reach Farmingdale.


Or Sundjyvsky sparked a late13-0 run, propelling Yeshiva to an 80-68 victory over Manhattanville in the Skyline Conference semifinals on Thursday night. (Photo Credit: Ezra Rosenfield/MacsLive)


How it Happened:

- Manhattanville caught Yeshiva off guard with a strong start, as they applied aggressive pressure. They took an early 4-3 lead, prompting a timeout from YU.

- The tide began to turn when Or Sundjyvsky made the play of the night, going straight at the Valiants defender with his right and forcing him to fall before going to his left and laying it in, cutting the Macs' deficit to 8-7. Sundjyvsky’s sorcery started a 12-0 Yeshiva run, with Or and Max Zakheim connecting from downtown between two Zevi Samet layups to give the Macs a 17-8 lead.

- Yeshiva maintained their momentum, exploiting gaps in the Valiants' defense to extend their lead to 33-19, with Samet, Roy Itcovichi, and Zakheim connecting from beyond the arc. 

- Manhattanville fought back with a 14-7 run led by junior star Andrew Saint-Louis, closing the gap to 40-33 by halftime. 

- In the second half, the Valiants immediately brought out a full-court press, but Yeshiva capitalized on transition opportunities, as two Samet layups pushed the Macs lead to 46-38 with 16:34 left. 

- Despite Manhattanville's efforts to slow down the game and force tough shots, Yeshiva maintained their composure. Itcovichi nailed a contested mid-range jumper before driving in for a layup, extending the Macs' advantage to 59-51. 

- Manhattanville rallied to tie the game at 59, but Yeshiva answered with a 13-0 run. Sundjyvsky’s stellar performance, including both free throws and three-pointers, propelled the Macs to a 72-59 lead with 2:59 remaining. 

- The Valiants made one last push, led by ten straight points from Tommy Lotito, but it was too late.

- Down the stretch, the Macs proved why they were the best free throw shooting team in the conference during the regular season, as Samet, Zakheim, and Freundlich converted from the charity stripe, sending Yeshiva to the conference finals with an 80-68 victory.


Clutch Shooting:

The Macs knocked down shots when it mattered most, especially from beyond the arc. While Manhattanville struggled with a 3-point percentage of 30% (6-20), the Macs enjoyed a 3-point clip of 41% (11-27). Those long-range bombs were instrumental in keeping Yeshiva ahead en route to demoralizing the Valiants. 


Free Throw Precision:

While Manhattanville shot 82% from the free-throw line (14/17), the Macs were even more lethal, sinking 86% of their free throws (19/22), including eight of their final ten points. Making the most of their opportunities, Yeshiva used the charity stripe to fend off the resilient Manhattanville bunch. 


Capitalizing on Turnovers: 

As MacsLive fan Sam Feder commented on the preview, “Turnovers turnovers turnovers. Avoid easy layups by the opponent.” That’s just what Yeshiva did. 

The Macs pounced on the Valiants' mistakes and hit them where it hurt the most, scoring 15 points off turnovers compared to Manhattanville's 8. Yeshiva also took care of the ball and finished with a season-low 11 turnovers, including just five in the second half, despite the Valiants applying their full-court press. 


Macsville:

The atmosphere in the Max Stern Athletic Center was electric, with the crowd roaring in support of the Macs every step of the way. The fans noticeably frustrated Manhattanville, who sometimes struggled to communicate due to the raucous fortress around them. The fans did their job as the team's sixth man, bringing an energy and intensity that fueled Yeshiva's performance, especially in crunch time.


For Manhattanville: 

- Tommy Lotito led the Valiants with 20 points and 9 rebounds. 

- Andrew Saint-Louis added 16 points, and Ryan Giordano had 11. Both players grabbed six rebounds each.

- The Valiants outscored the Macs 28-24 in the paint.


For Yeshiva:

- Zevi Samet led the charge with 20 points, followed by Max Zakheim and Or Sundjyvsky, who had 15 each. Roy Itcovichi, Effy Freundlich, and Dothan Bardichev also chipped in with 13 points, completing the balanced scoring output.

- Bardichev showcased his versatility by leading the team in rebounds (10) and steals (two). Zakheim and Itcovichi grabbed five boards apiece. 

- Freundlich, Zakheim, and Itcovichi all went 4/4 from the free throw line, contributing to Yeshiva’s charity stripe prowess. Freundlich’s tenacious play earned him “MVP” chants as he stepped to the free-throw line and iced the game.


Up Next:

The Maccabees advance to their fifth Skyline Championship in six seasons and will travel to Farmingdale, New York, for an epic showdown against Farmingdale State College in the finals this Sunday, Feb. 25, at 1:00 PM. A win would give Yeshiva their fourth conference title and clinch an NCAA tournament berth.


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