by Max Hastings
The gymnasium was filled to the brim last night, with students from both Manhattanville and Purchase eagerly awaiting to see this cross-town rivalry. Fans who came out didn’t go home disappointed (at least the students from Purchase didn’t), as they were treated to an up and down, fast paced, high scoring show in which the Panthers pulled off a 104-92 win.
“I don’t like the fact that we blew the lead, but the way we fought through it and won the game, that can help us grow,” Coach Kyle Martin said. “Overall, we played pretty good versus a pretty good opponent.”
The lead, Coach Martin mentioned, was a 20 point lead the Panthers earned from their suffocating press defense, holding Manhatanville to just 38 percent shooting in the first half, while getting easy buckets in transition and shooting 66 percent from the field themselves.
The tide turned in the second half, and Manhattanville began to hit their shots. They eventually cut the deficit to five points with five minutes left to play in the game, forcing the Panthers to dig deep and work for the win. Manhattanville captain JoJo Cobbs’ performance stood out, scoring a team high 26 points, going 3-7 from downtown.
“It was such a fast-paced game with so many possessions, you can’t really look at the final score,” Coach Martin said. “They were fired up to beat us and they played well too. It takes two to tango, you know?”
The two teams were definitely doing the tango in the final minutes of the game as Manhattanville kept up the pressure, keeping the score close until the final buzzer. Panthers’ star guard Elijah Lott gave the team a huge lift and was monumental down the stretch, scoring eight of his game high 31 points in the last 5 minutes.
But, a surprise performance by first year transfer forward Maxx Miller was maybe the most key, as his 13 first half points helped Purchase jump out to a big early lead.
“My teammates kept finding me running the lane (on fast breaks), so they made it easy for me,” Miller said, “I just had to finish.”
Measuring at 6’5’’, Miller was a force in the paint and unstoppable in transition, using his height and quickness to get easy layups over the Manhatanville defenders. Miller ended the game with a season high 20 points and 6 rebounds.
“Coach has been telling me to get in the lane more and it’s been working out for me,” Miller said, “I have an advantage on most players being fast and tall, so it’s been pretty easy for me getting to the hole.”
Although Lott and Miller had the most stand-out performances, Purchase got a lift from everyone who touched the floor, as all eight players who logged minutes for the Panthers were able to score.
“That’s really our hallmark as a team, that everyone can score,” Coach Martin said. “We move the ball so much so if somebody is having a bad game somebody else is going to pick them up.”
After beating a cross-town rival, it could be said that this was a big win for the Panthers. But for Coach Martin, this was just another game.
“It’s no disrespect to (Manhatanville), they’re a great team and well-coached, but we’re more worried about what we’re doing to win games right now.”
This marks three victories in a row for the Panthers, whose season record is now at 3-2.
“After our first two losses to start the season, we’ve really been coming together as a team,” Maxx Miller said. “Everybody knows their roles and are excepting their roles, so I feel like that really is starting to show.”
The Panthers look to extend their winning streak this Saturday, joining the women's program in a Skyline Conference doubleheader at home against Sarah Lawrence College. The game times are set for 12 p.m. and 2 p.m.