The Tompkins Cortland men's basketball team opened the season Friday with a non-region game against one of the top teams in the nation. Hosting Northampton Community College (Penn.), the Panthers matched up with the Spartans over a close first half, but saw things slip away in the second of an 85-64 loss. It was also the first game of the year for Northampton, a team that spent several weeks ranked in the top ten in the nation last season and was among the schools receiving votes in the this year's preseason rankings.
The Panthers started strong, taking a 10-7 lead on a three-pointer by Derek Brower (Queens/Half Hollow Hills West H.S.) four minutes into the game. The teams traded scores over the next few minutes before Northampton went on a little run to take a game that was tied at 20-20 with under nine minutes left and turn it into a halftime lead of 40-32.
Six straight to open the second half pushed the Northampton lead to double digits and the Panthers were never able to get back to within striking distance. Despite shooting better than 43% from the field in the second half, the deficit continued to grow as the Spartans connected on an incredible 61.3% from the field in the second half.
Twelve different Panthers got in the scoring column before the final horn, led by Marven Louissaint (Brooklyn/Eramus Hall H.S.) and his 10 points. Louissaint was also the leading rebounders on the team, pulling down 7 boards. Jaiden Allen (Marlboro/Marlboro H.S.) and Phillip Harris (Brooklyn/Research and Service H.S.) each finished with 9 points.
The Panthers open Region III play Tuesday with a home game against Schenectady County Community College. Tip-off is at 5 p.m.