(yumacs.com) The No. 8 Yeshiva University men’s basketball team earned a hard-fought victory over the University of Rochester, 70-63, at the Blue Cross Arena on Sunday afternoon. Yeshiva now starts the season 3-0 and extends its winning streak to 32 games, dating back to last season.
The victory did not come easy, as there were 13 ties and 15 lead changes throughout the game. Rochester (0-1) held Yeshiva to just 41.0% shooting from the field. YU had a strong game defensively, holding the opposition to just 39.3% shooting from the field, including 22.2% from 3-point range.
“Just a toughness win on a day where our offense stayed on the bus,” Yeshiva University Head Coach Elliot Steinmetz said. “We rebounded. We took care of the ball and we made big shots when it mattered.”
Senior forward Gabriel Leifer produced his second double-double of the season with 16 points and 13 rebounds. Junior guard Ryan Turell also scored 16 points, while dishing out a game-high seven assists, bringing down five rebounds and forcing three steals. Senior guard Eitan Halpert scored a team-best 17 points and brought down four boards, while sophomore guard Matan Zucker just missed a double-double with 12 points and nine rebounds. The Manalapan native also distributed three assists.
It was a defensive battle throughout the first half, with each team only scoring 26 points during the first 20 minutes of the contest. In the opening period, senior guard Kailan Lee’s 3-point field goal gave Rochester a 24-20 advantage with 5:04 to go. Yeshiva answered with six unanswered points, highlighted by a shot from beyond the arc by Leifer and a layup from Zucker, to give the Blue and White a narrow lead with 1:26 remaining. Turell committed a foul just before the time expired. Junior guard Ross Gang took advantage by nailing both shots from the charity stripe to send both teams into the intermission tied, 26-26.
Rochester scored the first four points of the second half to regain its largest lead of the afternoon. Later in the second half, with Yeshiva trailing by two, Turell drained two free throws to tie the contest at 47. After Yeshiva forced a stop, Leifer connected on a 3-point basket to put YU in front, 50-47, with 6:09 remaining in regulation time.
With the Maccabees up by a score of 52-49, senior forward Ryan Algier successfully converted a layup for the Yellowjackets while being fouled. He connected on the free throw to complete the traditional three-point play to even the game at 52 with 4:15 remaining. Zucker drained a free throw to put YU back up by one, but Algier answered with two free throws of his own to give the home team a 54-53 advantage with 3:01 left in regulation time.
On Yeshiva’s next possession, graduate guard Samuel Merkin drained a timely 3-point field goal to catapult YU back in front, 56-54. After Rochester sliced the lead in half, Turell capitalized on a jumper to extend Yeshiva’s lead to 58-55 with 2:09 remaining. After the home team pulled to within one, Merkin answered with another clutch shot from beyond the arc to increase the Blue and White’s lead to 61-57 with 1:28 left to play. Leifer capped off YU’s 5-0 run with a successful jump shot to inflate the lead to 63-57 with 47 ticks left on the clock.
The Maccabees were able to hit key free throws during the final minute to clinch the victory, 70-63.