YORK, Pa. – The Yeshiva University men's basketball team's historic season came to a close on Friday afternoon, as YU fell to nationally-ranked No. 11 York College Pennsylvania, 81-67, in the opening round of the NCAA tournament at Charles Wolf Gymnasium. The Spartans will play the winner of Hamilton vs. Nazareth on Saturday evening, in the same location.
Yeshiva concludes the season with a program-record 18 wins and its first ever Skyline Conference championship.
"The Macs' performance this season is a source of great pride for Yeshiva University, our friends, alumni and supporters and the entire Jewish community," Yeshiva University President Dr. Ari Berman said. "Our team is celebrated not just because of their wins but also the way in which they have won, with will, grit and talent, great sportsmanship, and exceptional character."
Leading the way for Yeshiva (18-11) was sophomore forward Gabriel Leifer, who scored a team-high 18 points, while grabbing six rebounds, and dishing out three assists. Classmate Daniel Katz had 15 points, brought down four caroms, and distributed a pair of assists. Sophomore guard Tyler Hod just missed a double-double with eight points and a career-high nine rebounds, while forcing three steals.
Sophomore guard Simcha Halpert produced 12 points, with two rebounds, just as many assists, and a block. He concludes the year with 599 points, which is a school single-season record.
"I am so proud of these guys," Yeshiva University Director of Athletics Mr. Joe Bednarsh said. "It is a grueling season to begin with and with all the added games it is even tougher. They guys faced every challenge with class, dedication, and tenacity. You can only make history once and they achieved something that very few people get to do in their lifetimes and will certainly cherish this memory forever. I congratulate the team and the university and look forward to repeating as champions next season."
After securing a defensive rebound off of Halpert's block, Katz threw an outlet pass to Halpert, who laid it up and in to open the scoring, and give YU a 2-0 advantage, less than a minute in. Later in the period, Leifer successfully converted a layup to give YU an 8-6 lead, just over three minutes in. The Spartans (24-4) countered by scoring 20 unanswered points, in a span of 6:17, to go up by a score of 26-8, with 10:23 left to play in the opening half.
Katz ended Yeshiva's scoreless drought by laying the ball up and in, to pull YU to within 16, with 9:47 left in the period.
Later in the stanza, it was Yeshiva's turn to make a run. Leifer laid the ball up and in, while being fouled. He hit the free throw to complete the traditional three-point play to pull YU to within 11, at 33-22, with 5:45 left until the half. Senior forward Eli Mamann forced a steal, and Halpert drilled a shot from beyond the arc in the ensuing possession to pull the Maccabees to within eight, at 33-25. Mamann forced another steal and fed it to Leifer, who laid it up and in off the fast break to cap off the Macs' 15-4 run, to narrow the deficit to 33-27, with 5:23 left in the first half.
With just over three minutes remaining, Mamann found freshman guard Sammy Mandel, who laid it up and in to narrow York's lead to 36-29. After the home team went back up by nine, Mamann answered with a 3-point shot to make it a two-possession game, at 38-32, with 2:11 left to play.
The Spartans would have the upper-hand for the remainder of the opening half, outscoring Yeshiva, 8-2, in the final 1:42 to take a 46-34 lead into the locker room.
Katz powered into the paint for a layup to pull YU to within single-digits, less than six minutes into the second half. York would answer with four unanswered point to increase its advantage to 58-45. After a layup by Leifer got Yeshiva closer, the Spartans answered with back-to-back 3- point baskets to take a commanding 64-47 lead, with 10:26 remaining in regulation time.
After a layup by Jason Bady put the home team up by 19, Katz would lay the ball up and in, as he was fouled. He drilled the shot from the charity stripe to pull the Macs to within 16, at 66-50, with 8:53 left to play. Sophomore forward Kevin Bokor followed up with a layup to pull YU closer. Later in the period, Katz successfully executed a layup to narrow York Pa's advantage to 70-56. After the Spartans increased their lead, Tyler Hod drained a 3-pointer to pull Yeshiva to within 13, at 72-59, with 4:44 to go.
Yeshiva would not go away, as a pair of free throws by Halpert pulled Yeshiva to within 10, at 72-62, with 3:52 remaining in regulation time. However, a timely 3-point field goal by Dalton Myers put the home team back up by 13. Once again, the Maccabees would not go down without a fight, as Mamann took a feed from Halpert and drilled a 3-point field goal to pull Yeshiva to within single-digits, at 75-67, with 2:02 remaining in regulation time. York would once again answer, as a successful 3-point shot by Mike Frauenheim put the Spartans back up by double-digits with 1:16 to go.
That would be the dagger, as York went on to earn the victory, 81-67, to advance to the second round of the NCAA Division III tournament.
For the Maccabees, Mamann had three rebounds and just as many assists to go along with his six points. Bokor produced four points and brought down four caroms, while junior guard Justin Hod added two points with a rebound.
"I've never been so proud of a group of guys," Yeshiva University head coach Elliot Steinmetz said. "Resilient and passionate until the end. We have a lot to be proud of and a lot more to be excited about. More to come from this group in the future."
The Yeshiva University men's basketball team will return to action in November 2018. Congratulations to the Maccabees on winning the Skyline Conference championship and for their historic season.