(Courtesy of yumacs.com) The No. 13 Yeshiva University men’s basketball team earned a victory in its NCAA tournament second round game over Penn State Harrisburg, 102-83, at Goldfarb Gymnasium on Saturday evening. Yeshiva advances to the Sweet 16, where they will play nationally ranked No. 3 Randolph-Macon College next weekend.
This is the first time in school history that the Maccabees have advanced to the third round of the NCAA postseason. Yeshiva advances to 29-1 and has not lost a game since its season opener.
For the evening, five players on YU reached double-figures in scoring. The Macs shot 65.1% from the floor as a team, including 64.7% from 3-point range. YU’s defense held the opposition to just 39.5% shooting from the field.
Leading the way for the Maccabees was sophomore guard Ryan Turell, who scored a team-high 30 points, while distributing seven assists and grabbing five rebounds. Senior forward Gabriel Leifer generated his fourth triple-double of the season, netting 10 points, leading all players with 20 rebounds and delivering 10 assists.
Senior guard Simcha Halpert generated 21 points with five rebounds, while freshman guard Ofek Reef added 16 points. Junior guard Eitan Halpert scored 18 points, grabbed three rebounds and dished out a pair of assists.
The first half was a back-and-forth affair with 15 lead changes and seven ties. Yeshiva took complete control of the second half, outscoring Penn State Harrisburg by a 58-45 margin in the game’s final 20 minutes.
“Proud of these guys for how hard they work and the selflessness,” Yeshiva University Head Coach Elliot Steinmetz said. “The constant willingness to share the ball, help on defense and compete as a unit is just special.”
After falling behind 3-0, Yeshiva scored five unanswered points, capped off by a layup from Turell to give YU a 5-3 advantage, 2:01 into the game. However, the Nittany Lions (21-8) rallied with an 8-2 run to go up, 11-7, with 15:57 remaining in the opening half.
The Maccabees began to tilt momentum into their favor, as Reef was able to capitalize on a jump shot, to pull YU to within two, at 11-9, with 14:34 left to play. That sparked a 6-0 run for the Macs, capped off by a floating jump shot from Simcha Halpert, to give the Blue and White a 13-11 lead with 12:04 to go in the half.
With Yeshiva down 16-15, Simcha Halpert’s successful shot from beyond the arc put the Macs back in front, 18-16. After YU went up by four, the Nittany Lions scored five unanswered points to take a 21-20 advantage with 9:07 left to play in the period.
Later in the stanza, after Yeshiva reclaimed the advantage, Turell capitalized on a jump shot from the paint to extend the Maccabees’ lead to 28-25, with 5:42 to go in the half. The Macs began to separate themselves from the Nittany Lions in the late stages of the period, as a 3-point field goal by Simcha Halpert gave the Maccabees a 40-35 benefit with 2:00 left on the clock.
The Macs finished the half strong, as Turell capitalized on a jump shot with less than a second left to give his team a 44-38 advantage heading into the intermission.
Yeshiva came storming out of the gate in the second half, as a layup by Leifer gave the Maccabees a commanding 55-44 hold with 16:48 remaining in regulation time. After the Nittany Lions sliced the lead to seven, Eitan Halpert connected on a shot from downtown to put Yeshiva back up by double-digits, at 58-48, with 15:08 to go.
Penn State Harrisburg rallied to shrink YU’s lead to four, but the Maccabees nipped the opposition’s run in the bud by scoring seven straight points to take a commanding 65-54 hold with 13:13 remaining. Highlighted in that run was a 3-point field goal by Turell, as well as a layup from Reef.
Yeshiva increased its cushion, as a pair of free throws from Turell gave the Macs a 78-61 hold with 8:08 left to play. A couple of possessions later, Turell drained a shot from well beyond the arc to catapult The Blue and White to a 19-point advantage, at 83-64, with 7:13 left on the clock.
Later in the half, Turell executed a put back dunk to give Yeshiva its largest lead of the evening, at 94-70, with 3:13 left to play. The Maccabees went on to earn the historic NCAA tournament second round victory, 102-83, to punch their ticket to the Sweet 16.
For the Macs, senior forward Daniel Katz tallied seven points, dished out three assists and grabbed two boards.