Playing its first NCAA Tournament game in 14 years, the New York University men's basketball team dominated in the second half en route to an 84-65 victory over visiting Misericordia University on Thursday, March 1, at the Coles Sports Center in Manhattan.
The host Violets (21-5) shot a scorching 67.9% (19-28) in the second period, outscoring the Cougars (21-7) 48-28 to take over a game that was back-and-forth in the first half. After playing its NCAA opening-round game in front of a raucous home crowd of 1,920, NYU now travels to #2 Amherst College for a second-round showdown on Saturday at 6:00 pm.
"We were more patient finding openings in the second half," said Violet head coach Joe Nesci of the team's dominating performance in the period. "That led to high-quality shots on the perimeter and inside."
"They established the post in the first four or five minutes of the second half," noted Misericordia head coach Trevor Woodruff. "They did a good job of doing what they needed to do."
Led by Carl Yaffe's 14 second-half points, NYU turned a tight game into a runaway in the final 13 minutes. Joe Busacca hit two free throws for the Cougars - who made their first 15 attempts at the line - to cut the Violets' lead to 48-46 with 13:16 to play before NYU took over, using a 10-0 run to take control.
Yaffe started the spurt with a layup, and Devin Karch followed with a three-point play inside. Kyle Stockmal then drained a three-pointer and Karch found Max Wein for a layup, quickly putting the Violets up 58-46.
Two more Misericorida free throws, this time from Freedom Conference Player of the Year Ethan Eichhorst, got the Cougars as close as eight with 7:14 remaining before NYU pulled away. Wein hit a three and made a layup to start a 12-2 spurt. Yaffe capped the big run with a block on defense and a layup on the other end, effectively ending the game by giving the Violets an 18-point lead with 3:54 to go.
"I'm an emotional player," commented Yaffe. "I tried to stay within myself and just take the opportunities that I had."
Yaffe, as well as Andy Stein, had fewer opportunities in the first half while plagued with foul trouble. NYU got a big lift from their replacements, Ben Dorman (pictured above) and Karch, who helped keep the contest tight in a first period that featured seven lead changes and five ties.
Dorman's first of two triples in the half gave the Violets their biggest lead of the period, 22-16, with 9:05 left. After Misericordia tied it at 27-27, Dorman hit a trey and made a layup to put NYU back up five with 2:02 to go. But the Cougars ended the half on 10-4 run, with Cael Evans hitting a putback just before the buzzer to send them into the break leading 37-36.
The beginning of the second half was just as tight before Yaffe and the Violets took over, setting up their second matchup against a team ranked in the Top-5 this season. Earlier this year, NYU beat then-#4 Emory University by 16 at Coles.
Yaffe finished with 21 points on 9-12 shooting while also doling out six assists. Stein added 14 points on 7-10 from the floor. Karch scored 12 points off the bench with just one miss from the field (5-6), while Dorman and Stockmal each netted 10 points. Stockmal added team bests of seven rebounds and a career-high-tying seven assists.
Eichhorst led Misericordia, which was making its first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance, with 22 points and seven boards. Busacca scored 17 points, 10 of which came at the line, while Matt Greene recorded nine points, six assists and three steals.
The Violets take on #2 Amherst on Saturday at 6:00 pm. There will be a fan bus leaving from Coles at 1:00 pm; the cost of $5 includes a ticket to the game, travel to and from Amherst and pizza on the way up. To reserve a seat, contact Cassidy Dadaos at email@example.com.