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Panthers Roar in Courageous Court Comeback

Updated: Dec 6, 2023

By Arlenis Marmolejos

The Women’s Basketball team and coaches standing for the national anthem before the start of the game (Photo by Elaina Coppola)

The Panthers Women’s Basketball team marked their return on Nov. 8 with a season opener, following a year-long hiatus.

In a hard-fought matchup last Wednesday, the Purchase Panthers clashed with the City College Beavers on the court. Despite their relentless efforts, the Panthers ultimately succumbed to a 45-54 defeat. The competitive spirit was in full display, with 95 community members in attendance, according to the Purchase College Athletics website.

“It’s our first game with a long season ahead,” said DJ Peoples, assistant coach of the Purchase Women’s Basketball team. “We played hard and dealt with some adversity but, this was a good test for us to see what we need to work on.”

The head coach of the team, Stephen Bower, revealed that the decision to forgo playing last season was prompted by minimal enrollment, when “only one student-athlete came back” to the team last August. Given the circumstance, Bower and his staff decided to invest time in building a culture and program with a new group of players.

“We’re competing against teams that have been playing with each other for years and have built a level of trust and chemistry with one another, these girls are aware of it and still want the challenge!” Bower said. “The fight we showed was something that speaks to our identity.”

Carlye Graff, a junior psychology major and the Panthers’ wing and shooting guard, played 34 minutes on the court, contributing eight points to the game. Her impact extended beyond scoring a first-quarter jump shot and two consecutive three-point shots in the fourth quarter.

Graff said, “The game was a frustrating loss, but it was our first game all playing with each other for the first time. We didn’t have a season last year so this is all brand new for us; I think we are learning from each other and it’s only gonna go up from here!”

The Women’s Basketball team huddled during the basketball game

(Photo by Elaina Coppola)

Despite having known each other for about two months, Halle Greaige, a freshman sociology major and guard for the team, emphasized the profound sense of love and support the team shares, both on and off the court, which she said, “makes it easy to call [the team] a family. All the nerves got switched into excitement knowing I was with my team, and we are all experiencing the first game nerves together."

During the game, Greaige played for a total of 17 minutes and opened the second quarter with a three-pointer and later a layup, ultimately scoring five points to the team’s overall score.

In the position of post player, Jessica McHugh, a freshman chemistry major, acquired 12 minutes of playing time in her first college basketball game. In the third quarter, she contributed two points with a jump shot assisted by Charlee Neb, a sophomore psychology major and the Panthers’ starting point guard.

“We played good as a team but definitely not to our potential – I know how good we can really be,” McHugh said. She elaborated on how improving small details such as communication on defense and “boxing out” can play a pivotal role in the team’s ability to “bounce back” in future games.

Neb spent a total of 36 minutes on the court and scored 10 points including five successful free throws, a two-point jump shot, and a three-pointer in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, assisted by Graff, securing the Panthers’ final score of 45 points.

Neb explained how her motivation to persist in the game stemmed from the support of those around her specifically, her coaches and teammates. “We were not ready to roll over and let the game go too far away from us so, seeing other hard workers around me not give up, made me want to keep playing.”

Brandon Cruz, a freshman journalism major, watched the game from the crowd and stated that the players “could be a little clumsy at times, but it’s a learning experience since they’re a new team. They didn’t get blown out, they were losing by a lot and still held their own.”

Bower detailed how the Panthers outrebounded the opposition 55-40, with 20 offensive rebounds. “After digging ourselves an 8-point hole after the first [quarter], we played them to a one-point game,” Bower made it a focus to “getting off to better starts.”

Omari Hart, a sophomore communications major, and power forward on the Men’s Basketball team expressed his joy at the return of the women’s team. He noted a positive aspect of the team’s performance was how the players maintained unity and displayed positive body language.

A crowd seated watching the Women’s Basketball team play inside the Purchase gymnasium

(Photo by Arlenis Marmolejos)

“I felt really engaged the whole time!” said Nivek Palmer, a sophomore communications major and athlete on the Men’s Soccer team. “There was a very supportive crowd with a lot of people who came out to support the Women’s Basketball team first time back.”

This game set the stage for the team’s continued pursuit of success and growth throughout the season. If interested in witnessing the Panthers’ roar, consider exploring the athletics schedule for details on the upcoming games.

“We are a new and a really young team, but we all want to continue to keep showing people what we all can bring to the table,” said Neb.



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