Lewis, McWilliams lead Ramapo to win over NJCU on Senior Night
Fresh off a gut-wrenching overtime loss to William Paterson last Saturday, the Ramapo College Roadrunners returned to the Bradley Center for the NJAC regular season finale and Senior Night. The task would not be easy facing off against the number team in the conference in New Jersey City University. Back in January the Gothic Knights crushed the Roadrunners 86-61 at Jersey City.
Before tip-off seniors Kashaun Barnes, Rob Lewis, Raghav Sengal and Kyle Rauen were honored & presented with plaques at center court by Athletic Director Harold Crocker and Head Coach Chuck McBreen along with the players families.
McBreen on Senior Night, Raghav is the ultimate teammate and you saw from the crowd’s reaction. Kyle Rauen is a good kid, you have seen what Barnes and Rob Lewis for us this year and put us in this position. We have been blessed with great kids here in my time and this is no different”
Sengal got the starting nod, feeding off the emotion and energy of the home crowd the Roadrunners played inspired ball jumping out to a 12-6 lead not even four minutes in. Leading 23-19 with about eight minutes to go, Ramapo went on 9-2 run to open up a double-digit advantage.
Playing tight man-to-man defense gave the Gothic Knights no easy looks at the rim and having to melt the shot clock down to a few seconds left. Rob Lewis scored 11 points while Bryant Quill came off the bench tallying seven points and Rob McWilliams each had six points apiece as the Roadrunners expanded its lead to 39-26 at intermission. Ramapo shot almost 47 percent from the field while holding NJCU to 35.7 and 2 of 11 from three-point land and limiting star player Sam Toney to four points while Denzel Banks poured in 12 of his game-high 20 points. The Roadrunners dominated the points in the paint 22 to 10.
“One of our top halves of the season and know we had to lock in defensively,” said Rob Lewis. “We shared the ball, got out in transition and something we got away from this season.”
Coming out of the locker room, Ramapo continued to bump up the margin leading 48-32 with 16 minutes remaining. Just when it seemed the Gothic Knights were about to fold, James Julius (16 points) knocked down back-to-back treys. After a dismal performance from beyond the arc, NJCU canned two more triples as the Roadrunners saw their lead shrink to 52-48 with 11 minutes left. A lay-up from Lavrone Green whittled the difference down to 54-52 with less than 10 minutes on the clock.
“We executed our game plan in the first half, in the second half allowed them to get put backs and easy buckets,” said McBreen. “We got a little rattled in the second half and turned it over 10 times.”
The Gothic Knights kept charging ahead shaving the score down to 64-63 on a three-pointer from Shaquan Worthy with four minutes remaining. However, it was the combination of Rob Lewis and Rob McWilliams became the difference makers each netting 13 points. McWilliams provided some breathing room burying a critical baseline trey to make it 68-63 with less than three minutes left. Leading 70-66 with a minute in change left, McWilliams stepped up with another huge bucket on a put back to seal a 74-66 victory. Lewis finished with a game-high 24 points while McWilliams dropped a double-double with 19 points and 11 rebounds.
“Rob (McWilliams) was huge with the three in the corner, we lost our composure but the good thing is we’re home and with the crowd able to hold on and wasn’t easy,” McBreen said. “It was huge for us and have been struggling and had opportunities in a four-game stretch to win all four and came out 1-3 because we didn’t make plays, making a play doesn’t mean scoring a bucket but blocking out, a stop, rebound and able to do that.”
“We talked about how important it was to block out, they are stronger and more physical and beat you on the glass but you have to put yourself between them and the rim. As a result we ended up winning the backboards by four, lost the offensive backboards by three but won overall battle on the boards and for the most part we took of the ball and got the W.”
Rob Lewis on the victory and Senior Night, “Everybody stepped up tonight and worked to get this win tonight and protect our home court in our last game on this court and do it for the seniors who have been here longer than I am and they bought in. Rob (McWilliams) is a big factor offensively and defensively, a captain and gets the job done for this team. He helped us big time today with big shots and defensively got some big rebounds. A big part of our success and when he is on sky’s the limit for us.”
“First game my Mom was able to get here all season because she has been working so hard, I saw her face here and it was really exciting. I wanted to put a show on for her and get the win. I said I wasn’t going to emotional but I shed a few tears.”
Ramapo ended the regular season with an overall record of 17-8, 10-1 at home and 11-7 in the NJAC earning them the fourth seed in the conference tournament. The Roadrunners will play fifth seed William Paterson (16-9, 11-7 NJAC) on Saturday at the Bradley Center with tip-off set for 3:00 p.m. The two teams split the regular season series.
“It’s going to take defensive rebounding, we didn’t defend and get stops last time,” McBreen said. “We were in position to win the game, we beat them on the backboards and going to have defend better. Only beat them by three here.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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