Men’s Basketball Wins Skyline Championship, Earns Berth into NCAA Division III Tournament for First Time in YU History
For the first time in Yeshiva University history, the Men’s Basketball Team, the Maccabees, won the Skyline Conference Championship and secured an automatic berth into the NCAA Division III men's basketball tournament. On Sunday, February 25, the #4 seed Maccabees defeated the #2 seed Purchase College Panthers by a score of 87-81 at Purchase.
As the game concluded, the thousands of YU fans who traveled to Purchase to support the Macs began singing “mishe nichnas adar marbim b’simcha” to celebrate the historic victory. Syms Sophomore Binyamin Suissa described the atmosphere of the game as “unbelievable,” adding, “I really felt like I was at a home game.”
In the first half, Purchase jumped out to an early 23-11 lead, but momentum quickly shifted after a 13-0 run by the Macs, which made the score 24-23 with 8:41 remaining. After a few lead changes, YU headed into halftime leading 43-35.
The Maccabees extended their lead to 15 to open the second half and made the score 52-37. As the half continued, Purchase mounted a comeback and tied the game 54-54. The next 7 minutes of play remained competitive until Yeshiva pulled away when Sophomore Bar Alluf hit a three pointer to put YU ahead 73-68.
Surrounded by two defenders, Sophomore Simcha Halpert sealed the victory with 1:31 remaining by scoring a 3 point shot that made the score 79-70. Purchase’s efforts in intentionally fouling the Macs were unsuccessful and YU emerged with the win.
Halpert led the team with 25 points, going 5-of-8 from behind the arc, and hitting 8-of-8 free throws. Junior Justin Hod shot 100% from 3 point range, scoring 6-of-6 in the first half. Sophomore Gabriel Leifer also had an impressive game with 11 rebounds.
Senior Eli Mamann, the Captain of the team, described the long journey towards winning the championship. “We faced a lot of battles this season. We suffered some injuries and setbacks, but we had trust in each other that if we kept trusting the process and playing our style basketball, we would be successful at the end of the season.” He added that winning a championship is far from easy, and how it “takes total commitment from every single person to get there.”.
As the Skyline Conference Champions, the Maccabees automatically qualified for the NCAA Division III tournament, which will take place from March 2-17 in various locations across the country. The Skyline is 1 of 43 Conferences whose champion is guaranteed a spot in the tournament, which features 64 of the best Division III college teams from around the country.
In the first round, YU is scheduled to play York College (PA) at York on Friday, March 2.