The No. 4 Yeshiva University men’s basketball team surged past No.5 Purchase, 69-62, in the opening round of the Skyline Conference championships that was played in front of a packed Max Stern Athletic Center on Tuesday evening. It is the first home Skyline playoff win in the history of the program. The Maccabees will now travel to Long Island and battle No.1 SUNY Old Westbury in the Skyline semifinals on Thursday. Tip-off is slated for 7:00 p.m.
Yeshiva University men’s basketball head coach Elliot Steinmetz felt that the positive energy throughout the gym exuded by the lively audience helped his team succeed. “What a crowd, we heard them from the locker room before the game,” Steinmetz said. “They got us going and they helped us finish.”
The Maccabees (15-11) got off to a slow start as the Panthers (13-13) jumped out to a quick 6-0 lead. After Yeshiva scored six of the game’s next seven points, a 3-point field goal by junior guard Jordan Hod gave the Maccabees their first lead of the game—one they would not surrender for the remainder of the contest—with 15:09 left in the opening half. Later in the stanza, freshman guard Jamie Cappell nailed a shot of his own from downtown to extend Yeshiva’s lead to 16-10. The Maccabees did not allow the Panthers to sustain any kind of momentum for the remainder of the first half; Yeshiva held a 30-23 lead at the intermission.
Both teams kept trading baskets for the majority of the second stanza. Yeshiva finally earned some more breathing room, thanks to junior forward Dean Pienica and senior guard Shaje Weiss, combining for back-to-back layups. Their scoring extended the Maccabees’ lead to 53-43, with 6:34 left to play in regulation time. Just over a minute later, freshman guard Judah Cohen drilled a 3-point field goal to give Yeshiva a 12-point advantage, 56-44. Purchase managed to pull within seven, with 1:31 left, but Weiss successfully hit five free throws in the final 1:09 of the contest to help Yeshiva clinch its spot in the Skyline semifinals.
For the game, Weiss led all scorers with 21 points while grabbing 9 rebounds. Senior forward Shelby Rosenberg had a double-double with 11 points and 13 rebounds. Junior forward Michael Berg scored 8 points and dished out just as many assists, while Cappell added 9 points. Cohen produced 6 points and senior guard Joseph Ammar rounded out the scoring with 2 points.
“Credit to our players for earning this home game and allowing our fans to get involved. And a tremendous job by our fans for carrying us throughout the night,” Steinmetz said. “Very proud to be part of this school and culture.”