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Monday, May 20, 2019

YU star guard Simcha Halpert. (Credit: yumacs.com)

(Courtesy of yumacs.com) The Yeshiva University men’s basketball team advanced to its second straight Skyline Conference championship game, after defeating No. 3 the College at Old Westbury by a score of 103-70 in the conference semi-final at the Max Stern Athletic Center, last Friday afternoon.

The stage was set for the Skyline championship as the No. 2 Yeshiva University men’s basketball team traveled to No. 1 Farmingdale State College at the Nold Hall Athletic Complex this past Sunday afternoon. Unfortunately for the Macs faithful, the Rams earned their second conference title in the last three years and earn an automatic bid into the upcoming NCAA Division III men’s basketball tournament with a hard fought 81-75 victory.

The key to the game was Farmingdale’s (20-7) 12-1 run in the late stages of the second half to take control.

Senior guard Matthew Graham was named the Most Outstanding Player of the Skyline Conference championships. In the championship game, he scored 25 points, grabbed seven rebounds, and dished out five assists.

Leading the way for the Maccabees was junior forward Gabriel Leifer, who produced a double-double with 27 points and 15 rebounds, while dishing out eight assists and blocking two shots. Freshman guard Ryan Turell netted 20 points with six rebounds. Junior guard Simcha Halpert added 14 points and grabbed six rebounds.

The Maccabees got off to a strong start in the game as a 3-point field goal by Leifer gave YU an 18-10 advantage, 6:50 into the contest. Later in the half, Turell drained a pair of shots from the charity stripe to increase the Blue and White’s lead to 28-25, with 2:04 remaining in the period. Farmingdale State responded with a run, scoring five unanswered points and with the opening half winding down, Graham nailed a jump shot to send the Rams into the intermission up, 34-32.

Yeshiva got off to a slow start in the second half, until junior forward Daniel Katz ended Yeshiva’s scoring drought by converting a layup, while being fouled. That sparked a 9-0 run by the Maccabees, as Katz’ 3-point field goal tied the game, 41-41, with 14:00 to go. Farmingdale answered with a 6-2 run to go up by four.

Yeshiva came storming back as a 3-point field goal by Halpert propelled Yeshiva to a one-point lead, at 48-47, with 10:54 to go. After Yeshiva fell behind by one, Leifer provided a successful shot from beyond the arc to push Yeshiva ahead, 51-49. Later in the period, with Yeshiva down by two, Katz fed the ball to Halpert, who drained a 3-point shot while being fouled. He added the free throw to complete a four-point play to put YU up, 55-53, with 8:07 to go.

However, Farmingdale State would take over the game by scoring 12 of the game’s next 13 points to grab a 65-56 hold with 5:32 remaining in regulation time. Yeshiva did manage to pull to within five on a couple of occasions down the stretch, but Farmingdale kept countering with mini-runs to prevent the Macs from getting closer. Turell closed out the game with a 3-point basket at the buzzer, but it was not enough, as Farmingdale clinched the Skyline championship by winning the game, 81-75.

The Yeshiva University men’s basketball team will return in 2019-20.