IOWA FALLS – Just two days after officially starting practice on Oct. 1, the Panther men's basketball team wasted no time getting its season underway. On Saturday, Oct. 3, the men traveled to the UNI campus in Cedar Falls for a trio of games against varying teams across the Midwest.
In the opening game vs. Kishwaukee Community College of Illinois, the Panthers stormed out to a 43-17 first half lead and never looked back. ECC was led by Myzeah Batie-Gaddy with 22 points and Keeon Johnson with 17, including a thunderous transition dunk. The Panthers dominated the game start to finish with a balanced attack both in the paint and on the perimeter. ECC finished its first game on top with a dominating 73-45 victory.
In the second game, the Panthers faced a strong and athletic Milwaukee Area Technical College out of Wisconsin. The even match up of size and strength showed in the low scoring 15-19 first half score, where the Panthers were down by four at intermission. However the second half, most notably the first three minutes, showed what the Panther team is capable of doing. ECC went on a 20-6 run and made its presence known on the floor and in the gym in dominating fashion. Fist pumps, shouts and the ECC bench on their feet screaming at every play, brought all eyes in the gym to the Panther men as they roared back into the lead. Smart decisions, bodies flying around, and once again, a balanced attack of perimeter shooting and gritty inside play allowed the men to rack up a 46-38 win. Batie-Gaddy was the only player in double digits with 12 points.
The third game pitted the ECC men against the most formidable team of the day, Northeast Community College out of Nebraska. A back and fourth first half saw the Panthers down 24-28 at the break. Tired legs and minds by both teams led to some hard fought and determined basketball. The second half saw the Panthers nipping at the lead all night … play after play they fought and battled. After two free throws by Batie-Gaddy, the men were down by just one point with 50 seconds to go. Transitions, presses, quick fouls, free throws and a late deflections eventually saw the Panthers with possession of the ball down by three with .09 seconds to go. A well executed sideline out-of-bounds play got the Panthers a clean look at a three, but the shot bounced just long on the back iron, bringing the game to a close with the Panthers on the losing end, 54-57. Batie-Gaddy was the only Panther who scored in double figures again, this time with 14 points.
The Panthers will be on the road again this coming weekend for a Jamboree in Warrensburg, MO. ECC will play at noon, 3 pm and 5 pm on Saturday.