|Men's Basketball Victorious at Madison Square Garden|
|Monday, December 20, 2010|
NEW YORK, N.Y. – The game was not nearly as pretty as the world-famous venue in which it was played, but the Manhattanville men's basketball team nonetheless found the end result a very attractive one.
Playing at the “World's Most Famous Arena” for the first time in more than 15 years, the Valiants remained unbeaten at Madison Square Garden with a hard-fought 66-54 victory over neighboring Purchase College in front of more than 1,500 raucous fans on Sunday night.
Manhattanville (8-1, 2-0 Freedom) picks up its fifth straight victory and ties the best nine-game start to a season in program history with the win, moving to 8-1 for the fourth time ever (1977-78, 1985-86 and 2006-07). Purchase (7-1, 4-0 Skyline) suffers its first loss of the season after a seven-game winning streak to start the year.
Due in large part to the new surroundings, some good defense and assuredly some nerves on the part of the players, it was not the easiest contest for the two teams: the squads combined for 48 turnovers. But Manhattanville managed to overcome some early jitters to hit at 46.3 percent (25 for 54) from the field on the night, allowing the designated home team to overcome a Purchase side that shot just 29.0 percent (18 for 62) from the field.
In a battle that featured multiple good scorers on both sides, Manhattanville's duo of junior Trevoy Pointer (Dallas, Texas) and senior Peter Mehmel (Queens, N.Y.) got the better of Purchase seniors Corey Orgias and Marvin Billups, as Pointer led all players with 21 points and added four assists and four steals, while Mehmel netted 11 points and grabbed seven boards in front of a hometown crowd. The Valiants held Billups and Orgias to 15 and 13 points, respectively, on combined 10 of 23 shooting.
Playing a big role off the bench for the Valiants was junior Ivan Jovicic (Belgrade, Serbia), who shot 5 of 7 from the field to score 11 points in 11 minutes, leading all bench players in scoring by scoring all 11 in the second half. Senior Jay Ferriere (Melbourne, Australia) also led all players with six assists and tied for the game-high with eight rebounds as well in playing a team-high 35 minutes of action.
After the Panthers went into the MSG locker rooms with a four-point halftime lead, a free throw by John Simmons out of the break gave the visitors a five-point edge after the first possession of the half. But a layup and a old-fashioned three-point play by Pointer brought the Valiants right back to even, and a lay-in by junior Glen Rodriguez (Ponce, Puerto Rico) put the Valiants up by a pair at 30-28 only 3:01 into the second half.
Purchase stayed right with Manhattanville after that, as every Valiant bucket was matched by a Panther point for the next five possessions, before a three-pointer by former Valiant junior Derrick Stanton gave Purchase the lead back at 41-38 with 11:45 remaining. Purchase did not relinquish the lead for the next four minutes, before a pair of Pointer freebies and a Jovicic jumper turned the tide back yet again at 46-44.
Then it became Manhattanville's turn to find an answer for every Purchase basket, no more emphatic than when Jovicic nailed a three-pointer right after Orgias tied the score for the 14th time with seven minutes and change remaining.
Although the Valiants never trailed again, the game was still very much in doubt with 5:20 left, as two free throws by Billups left Purchase just one point down at 51-50. However, the Valiants held their opponents without a field goal for over four minutes and went on a key 11-2 run that finally broke the game open and gave the home team a 60-51 lead with 68 seconds remaining. The squad then scored on each of its next three possessions, including a pair of buckets from Jovicic, to keep the Panthers at bay and knock them from the ranks of the unbeaten.
The two teams did a good job of making their opponents pay for their sloppy play, combining for 45 points off of 48 turnovers. Purchase had an 18-8 edge in points off miscues in the first half, but Manhattanville had a big 15-4 edge in the second half to help pull out the victory. The Valiants also shot 55.2 percent (16 of 29) from the field and 10 of 12 from the line in the second half to secure the win.
Manhattanville will step onto the court once more in 2010, as the Valiants make another trip into the city to take on York (N.Y.) College in Jamaica on December 30 at 5 p.m. Purchase will be back in action on January 4, 2011 at 8 p.m. at home against Saint Joseph's (L.I.) College.