Farmingdale State Rallies in the Closing Seconds to Stun Yeshiva

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NEW YORK, N.Y. – The Yeshiva University men's basketball team suffered a heartbreaking loss to Skyline rival Farmingdale State, 80-78, at the Max Stern Athletic Center on Saturday evening. It was the battle of not only the top two Skyline teams in the standings, but also a tilt between two ranked teams in the NCAA Division III Atlantic Region. The Maccabees came into the game ranked No. 7 in the region, while the Rams were right behind at No. 8. 

FSC (18-7, 16-4 Skyline) trailed by three in the closing seconds, but a 3-point field goal by senior guard Matthew Graham, with six ticks on the clock, tied the game. Senior forward George Riefenstahl then intercepted the inbound pass and fed the ball to junior forward Jermaine Fraser, who converted the game-winning layup with one second left.

The Maccabees' (18-6, 16-3 Skyline) program-record 17-game winning streak comes to an end. YU remains in first-place in the Skyline standings and can clinch the No. 1 seed with a win over Purchase College, in the regular season finale, on Monday. However, a victory by the Panthers would guarantee the No. 1 seed for the Rams since Farmingdale has the tiebreaker over Yeshiva (better record against Mount Saint Mary).

In the opening half, Graham converted a shot from beyond the arc to cap off a 10-0 run by the Rams to put the visiting team up, 37-27, with 1:40 remaining until the break. With eight seconds to go, freshman guard Ryan Turell hit a pair of free throws to send the Maccabees into the intermission down, 41-34.

Farmingdale built its lead up to 17 in the early stages of the second half, as a layup by Fraser put the Rams up, 58-41. The Maccabees responded by scoring 11 straight points to pull to within six, at 58-52, with 9:45 left to play in regulation time. The run began and ended with layups by junior forward Gabriel Leifer. The Maccabees' defense held the Rams scoreless for 5:44.

A traditional three-point play by junior forward Daniel Katz, and a layup by Leifer, narrowed Yeshiva's deficit to 60-57, with 8:58 left to play. After FSC went back up by six, a 3-point field goal by junior guard Simcha Halpert capped off five straight points for Yeshiva to pull the home team to within one.

Later in the half, Halpert forced a steal and found senior forward Tal Gweta, who converted a fastbreak layup to even the game, 71-71, with 3:06 left. On Yeshiva's next offensive possession, Halpert drained a 3-point shot to give the Maccabees a 74-71 advantage with 2:38 to go. In the home stretch of the game, with 44 seconds to go, Riefenstahl converted a layup while being fouled. He added the shot from the charity stripe to cap off four straight points by the Rams to put the visiting team up, 75-74. Leifer answered with a layup to propel YU to the lead, with 29 seconds to go.

Down to 20 seconds remaining, Ryan Kennedy attempted a 3-point shot but was blocked by Turell. Halpert was then fouled intentionally, sending him to the line. He drained both free throws to extend Yeshiva's lead to 78-75 with 12 seconds to go. However, Graham's 3-point basket, with five seconds remaining, tied the game and then Fraser's layup off Riefenstahl's steal propelled the Rams to a key Skyline victory. It's the first loss suffered by the Maccabees since November 29, at Mount Saint Mary.

For the game, Halpert led all players with 24 points, shooting 8-for-13 from the field and 5-for-10 from 3-point range. Leifer scored 17 points in the second half, and 19 for the game, while grabbing 13 rebounds, dishing out eight assists, and blocking six shots. Turell netted 13 points, grabbed four rebounds, distributed just as many assists, and forced just as many steals. Katz added nine points with four boards.

For Farmingdale, Riefenstahl produced a double-double with 21 points and a game-high 20 rebounds, while Graham scored 18 points.

Yeshiva will look to clinch the No. 1 seed on Monday, in the regular season finale against Purchase College at the Max Stern Athletic Center, beginning at 7:00 p.m.

Prior to the game, Yeshiva University honored three graduating men's basketball seniors, Michael HayonJustin Hod, and Gweta. They will play in the final regular season game of their collegiate careers, on Monday.