Yeshiva University men’s basketball team advances to conference final

The men’s basketball team now heads to Farmingdale University on Sunday for the Skyline Conference Championship.
YU Maccabees junior guard Max Zakheim is a speedster who can get to the basket at will. (Courtesy: YU)

The Yeshiva University Maccabees defeated the Manhattanville College Valiants 80-68 Thursday night at the Max Stern Athletic Center. 

The men’s basketball team now heads to Farmingdale University on Sunday for the Skyline Conference Championship with an automatic bid to the Division III NCAA Tournament at stake.

Manhattanville ended YU’s season last year in the second round with a 71-67 win, but the Maccabees made sure that this year, there would be a different outcome.

Junior guard Zevi Samet led the way with 20 points, but it was a balanced attack. Junior guard Max Zakheim had 15 points, five rebounds and four assists, while junior forward Or Sundjyvsky scored 15 points and grabbed four rebounds. 

Junior guard Zevi Samet is the fourth leading scorer in Division III and scored 20 points as YU advanced to the Skyline Conference Championship to take place on Sunday. (Courtesy: YU)

A key reason the team won was the stellar play of Israeli Dothan Bardichev, who notched 13 points while controlling the boards with 10 rebounds and he dished five assists. Manhattanville got within two points in the second half before YU pulled away.

The team is 16-11 overall with a conference record of 11-5. Zakheim provided great energy and made some timely outside shots. Thursday night’s victory followed a first-round 84-76 win over Mount St. Vincent.

Samet has anchored the team, averaging 23.1 points per game and making 89 three-point shots. Farmingdale is YU’s archrival and when the two teams played on Feb. 3, Samet scored an impressive 34 points. However, the rest of the team struggled and the Rams beat the Maccabees 76-57. 

In order to win, YU will need Zakheim to leverage his speed and craftiness, while Bardichev, who is from Ein Vered, Israel, will have to make his presence felt.

The Maccabees have six players from Israel. Bardichev was in Israel on Oct. 7 and shared with ESPN’s Jeremy Shapp that his neighbor’s sister was killed in the attacks. Head Coach Elliot Steinmetz was in Jerusalem in a synagogue during the attacks and heard explosions overhead. The team visited Israel in January on a solidarity mission.

Guard Tom Beza, from Savyon near Tel Aviv, told ESPN in October that he kept his phone by the edge of the court, staying alert for any updates in case something happened.

The YU men’s basketball team gained national attention, largely due to the talents of star player Ryan Turell, arguably the best player in the college’s history.

Turell, who now plays for the Motor City Cruise of the NBA G League, thrilled fans with his dunks and three-point shots, leading the team to a No.1 ranking and a 50-game win streak, with significant support from muscular big man Gabriel Leifer.

The games are streamed on, allowing thousands of fans worldwide to watch and support the team. The broadcasts feature commentators and instant replays, and the games are archived for online viewing.

While the current team is not as stacked as the team from a few years ago, Samet is a sharpshooter who is capable of scoring in bunches. He ranks as the fourth-highest scorer in Division III with 604 points and is second in Division III for three-pointers made.

YU will focus on defending against Farmingdale senior guard Nick Hurowitz, who averages 19.6 points and 8.3 rebounds per game. The No. 1 Rams have an overall record of 25-2 and are 15-1 in conference play, while Yeshiva is ranked No. 2.

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