BROOKLYN, N.Y. — In the midst of a three-game losing streak, the St. Joseph's College (Brooklyn) men's basketball team looks ahead to road games against Yeshiva (Feb. 8) and Farmingdale State (Feb. 10) in the second-to-last week of the season. The Bears narrowly downed Farmingdale State in a thriller in their home and league opener, while they fell to Yeshiva in their second home contest by double-digits. On Thursday at the Macs, SJC will also be seeking to avoid their longest losing streak of the season.
Thursday, Feb. 8 at 8 p.m.
- Since their home victory over first-place Mount Saint Vincent (Jan. 24), the Bears have suffered a three-game skid dropping them to 7-9 in league play and eighth place in the Skyline standings. Each loss has been by six or fewer points, however, beginning with a 68-66 heartbreaker at Mount Saint Mary (Jan. 24) despite 21 points and eight boards from Stephane Etheart. They followed up with a 75-69 defeat at The Hill Center to Purchase (Jan. 30), although senior captain Alec Willis racked up a game-high 24 points. Most recently, the Bears dropped their first overtime game of the season at Merchant Marine (Feb. 1), while five Bears scored in double-figures led by Etheart's 19 (15 reb).
- The Macs, have been rolling as of late, winners of six straight (all Skyline games) behind 20.2 ppg from sophomore forward Bar Alluf and 17.2 from Simcha Halpert over the stretch. YU is coming off of back-to-back blowout victories, starting with a 69-53 win at Sarah Lawrence (Feb. 3) powered by 33 combined points from Alluf and Halpert. The Macs then prevailed in another road battle at Old Westbury (Feb. 6), as four players reached double-digit points improving their record to 12-9 (10-6 Skyline). That mark brings them to a third-place tie with Purchase, as they're one league win away from matching last year's total.
Keys to the Contest
- Defense has been SJC's weaker side of the ball this season, as they are one of three teams in the league allowing at least 75 points a night. On the other hand, their offense has shined to the tune of 1,454 points this season, which is the sixth most in the Skyline thus far. Scoring comes in many ways for the Bears as they claim three players within the conference's top-15 scorers. Highlighted by sophomore guard Dimitri Sirakis' 14.5 ppg (7th), followed by Willis' 13.9 (t-11th) and Etheart's 13.5 (t-13th), St. Joseph's has the most top-15 bucket getters in the league.
- Yeshiva's offense is in a league of its own, topping the Skyline with 77 points per game with a 2.7-point lead over second place. Even more impressively, Halpert is the number-one scorer in the league (21.8 ppg) and is the only player averaging 20+ points in the entire Skyline. Alluf is unsurprisingly right behind him, sitting at third with 17.6 points per, as he, Halpert, and Maritime's Patrick MacDonald (17.8 ppg) are the only players putting up over 15 ppg entering the week. This duo should look to attack the ninth-ranked SJC defense, but YU isn't perfect on that end either as they're only one spot better than the Bears with 73.4 points allowed each time out.
- The Bears are 2-3 all-time against Yeshiva but have dropped the last three head-to-head including a 79-67 YU win at The Hill Center (Nov. 28) earlier in the season (Halpert - 17 pts).
Saturday, Feb. 10 at 2 p.m.
at Farmingdale State
- The Rams enter play at 12-4 in Skyline play, tying them for first place in the standings with Mount Saint Vincent. However, their most recent outing saw their four-game win streak broken at Purchase (Feb. 5) by a final score of 79-70. Four FSC player scored 10+ points in the loss, led by junior guard Ali Mableton's 16 on 7-for-12 shooting. They had previously enjoyed three double-digit triumphs along their streak, most notably an 82-48 dismantling of Maritime on the road (Jan. 30). Balanced scoring propelled them to victory, as all 14 Rams players recorded a point and Kyle Beeson's 16 were the only double-figures. Before hosting the Bears, FSC takes on SJC Long Island on Wednesday (Feb. 7).
Keys to the Contest
- Farmingdale State is the only team in the Skyline among the top three in scoring offense and defense, scoring 74.3 points/game (2nd) while allowing 69.1 (3rd) and they're second in scoring margin (+5.2). Matthew Graham is the squad's leading scorer (14.6) ranking sixth in the conference followed by teammate George Riefenstahl's 13.9 ppg, placing him in an 11th-place tie with Willis. In the Bears' 71-70 upset of FSC early in the year (Nov. 21) Graham dropped a game-high 24 points (9-17), while four Bears in double-figures and a Kavan Meiner (15 pts) putback layup for the game-winner sealed the win.
- SJC's November 21 win over the Rams broke a two-game skid in the all-time series, with their previous most recent victory coming in the first-round of 2015-16's Skyline Championships.