The Yellowjackets squeezed past the New York University Violets this past Friday, 57-55, in front of a packed Palestra crowd.
With 13 seconds left on the game clock and the fans on their feet, UR’s defense prevailed over NYU’s last effort shot by Jeff Gilkerson.
The game featured very similar strategies offensively and defensively. Both teams used their size down low during the first half in an attempt to set the tone for the rest of the game.
Senior All-American Seth Hauben did his part, scoring at will against the Violets with 14 points in the first half.
UR’s defense under the rim seemed overpowered at times, especially when trying to prevent NYU’s Jason Boone and Daniel Falcon from getting positions in the post.
The Yellowjackets closed out the first half with a two-point lead, 30-28.
UR’s success this year relates directly to its ability to wear teams down in the second half. By maintaining discipline and patience on both sides of the ball, the Yellowjackets uphold their team philosophy of remaining poised while under pressure.
Friday night was no different. In need of a basket, UR ran its offense by reading the defense until they found an open look.
UR’s team defense and rebounding ability form the backbone of the basketball program. The Yellowjackets out-rebounded NYU 35-31 and held them to 15 percent shooting from beyond the three point arc – holding the Violets 0-7 from deep in the second half.
Give credit to Head Coach Mike Neer and his outstanding coaching staff for preparing their team each weekend.
Hauben led the Yellowjackets with another dominating performance – scoring 26 points and a team-high eight rebounds, raising his total to 1,001 rebounds.
Hauben became the second UR player in history to grab more than 1,000 rebounds.
Freshman Jeff Juron scored 10 points and senior Brendan McAllister racked eight points and dished out five assists in 36 minutes.
The Yellowjackets came out Sunday morning against Brandeis University with high emotions.
Hauben earned his 15th double-double of the season with 24 points and 11 rebounds as the Yellowjackets defeated visiting Brandeis, 76-67.
Senior Gabe Perez drove to the hoop all night, scoring 13 points along with three assists. McAllister chipped in 11 points while Juron had a career-high eight assists.
“The two wins last weekend were huge for us,” Hauben said. “They allow us to control our own destiny. NYU was especially nice because it was our last Friday night home game of [the seniors’] careers. We finished our career 8-0 against NYU and Brandeis.”
UR won its ninth straight game and 14 of its last 15. The Yellowjackets lead the University Athletic Association at 10-1 – 19-3 overall – and hold a 2.5-game lead over Carnegie Mellon University, at 7-3.
The Yellowjackets will take to the road this weekend against the University of Chicago and Washington University in St. Louis for their last regular season road trip. UR returns home for their season finale at the Palestra against Carnegie Mellon on Feb. 26.
The upcoming road trip to the Midwest will prove to be another challenge for the team, but they seem ready and willing to square off against tough adversaries.
“We are a young team, so it has taken a while for things to click, but right now we are playing our best basketball,” Hauben said. “We still have room to improve. Right now our focus is to go 2-0 this weekend and have the league wrapped up by the time we get back.”
UR’s weekend sweep returned the team to the D3Hoops.com Top 25 ranking at No. 20 in the country.
The Yellowjackets can write their ticket to the National Collegiate Athletic Association Division III tournament with a sweep against Chicago and Washington University this weekend.
Rovinsky can be reached at email@example.com.