(yumacs.com) The Yeshiva University men’s basketball team continued its winning ways on Saturday evening, defeating the United States Merchant Marine Academy by a score of 80-56, at the Max Stern Athletic Center. Yeshiva (14-1, 7-0 Skyline) has won 14 straight games since dropping its season-opener and remains unbeaten in Skyline play. Merchant Marine drops to 7-10 for the season and 3-5 against league competition.
Senior forward Gabriel Leifer made history during the contest, by eclipsing the 1,000-career point plateau, becoming only the 30th player to reach that milestone in the program’s 89-year history. Leifer currently has 1,014 points which ranks him 29th on YU’s all-time scoring list. He surpasses Eric Davis (‘91) who netted 1,008 points in his career.
“The milestone makes me feel great, but I couldn’t have done it without my teammates,” Leifer said. “People told me I was 16 points away, before the game. I didn’t want to hear it, but everyone talks about it because it is a big accomplishment. When I heard that I was 16 points away, it was in my head a little bit but when I got on the court, it just all goes away. The only thing that matters is getting the win.”
Leifer reached the monumental scoring mark 2:34 into the second half, as he received a feed from sophomore guard Ryan Turell and buried a 3-point field goal that propelled him to the 1,000-point club, to the delight of the raucous crowd inside the Max Stern Athletic Center.
“It means a lot more to accomplish this here (on our home court) than on the road because it’s nice to have the people who come to all the games witness it, and for my parents who have been with me all throughout,” Leifer said. “It’s nice to do it in front of them.”
As for the game, Merchant Marine scored the first bucket of the game, courtesy of a layup by sophomore forward Blaine McDonough. However, Yeshiva scored six straight points, capped off by a layup from senior forward Daniel Katz, to take the lead for good.
Later in the half, Yeshiva blew the game open by scoring 15 unanswered points to take a commanding 41-18 hold with 2:17 to go in the period. The highlight play of Yeshiva’s rally was Leifer forcing a steal and converting a dunk off a fast break that drew a roar from the crowd. The Maccabees went into the intermission up by a score of 44-23.
After USMMA opened the second half with six straight points to pull to within 15, Leifer disrupted the opposition’s momentum with another dunk. On the next offensive possession, he nailed the 3-point field goal that got him to 1,000 career points. After the Macs’ defense held the Marines scoreless on the following possession, Leifer drilled yet another shot from downtown to increase Yeshiva’s advantage to 52-29 with 16:50 remaining in regulation time.
USMMA could not generate a run to get back into the contest. With 6:42 remaining in the game, senior guard Simcha Halpert launched a long pass to Turell, who completed the alley-oop to the delight of the home crowd. Yeshiva went on to win the game, 80-56.
The Maccabees’ defense held the Mariners to just 31.1% shooting from the field.
Leifer finished his historic evening with 30 points and 14 rebounds, for his 11th double-double of the season, while dishing out four assists and forcing just as many steals.
“I want to acknowledge that I couldn’t have done it without all of my teammates and coaches. It’s a testament to how we move the ball and play as a team,” Leifer said. “It’s a pleasure playing for this program.”
Yeshiva University Head Coach Elliot Steinmetz has been amazed by Leifer. “One of the most impressive players and people I’ve ever coached or been around,” Steinmetz said. “His scoring is not even the most impressive part of his game. His awareness on the court and ability to make his teammates better makes him an all-time great.”
For Yeshiva, Turell scored 23 points, dished out a game-best six assists, grabbed four rebounds and blocked a pair of shots. Halpert added 10 points with five assists.