McBreen gets 400th Win as Ramapo Cruises Past Rutgers-Camden
Ramapo College gets a memorable 74-54 win against Rutgers-Camden as Rob McWilliams scores season-high 26 points and head coach Chuck McBreen records 400th career victory.
Coming off a deflating 82-56 loss at TCNJ last Saturday where the Lions buried 18 three-pointers, the Ramapo College Roadrunners men’s basketball team dropped to fourth in the NJAC (New Jersey Athletic Conference) standings. The loss changed Head Coach Chuck McBreen’s perspective on the team play on the court, remaining regular season games to be played and clinching a playoff spot.
“We had the one bad game at Montclair, won seven in a row and came back with a win down at Rowan and at home against Kean,” McBreen said, “TCNJ has been a tough [place] to win at the last few years and did not trust the process. Like Montclair, they made 18 three’s, nine in each half, and some of them open and not well-challenged and a break down in defense and not trusting our philosophy on defense in getting around on shooters. We were 2 for 13 in three’s.”
“I thought if we beat TCNJ, won our last four and have Stockton lose we would be the number one seed.” I’m getting away about thinking about any seeds and mindset changed,” McBreen continued, “It’s go 1-0 on game day and not looking at last three games and bunching games together. When we won 9 out of 10 we were looking at the big picture instead of looking at what was directly in front of us. In life you have a tendency to look at that and as coaches try to guard against that.”
Fast forward to Wednesday night at the Bradley Center, Ramapo faced off against a Rutgers-Camden team that did not resemble a 7-15 squad. They took the Roadrunners to double overtime back on January 8th before falling 77-74 with the duo of Isaac Destin and Arian Azemi combining to score 44 points.
“We barely won in OT and lucky to get out of there,” McBreen said, “They have two of the best players in the league at their positions and had difficulty guarding them the first time. This is going to be no different and have to come to play and hopefully that home court means something. We have not clinched anything yet and why I’m now changing my thought process. Anybody who gets into this year has a chance to win it. My thought process has to be like the lottery, you can’t win if you are not in it and we have to win our next game and solidify a playoff spot.”
Early on the in the first half, the Roadrunners jumped out to a five-point lead at 17-12. However, the Scarlet Raptors responded with a 10-4 run to jump in front with less than eight minutes left. Clinging on a to a one-point advantage with under five minutes to go, it would be the tandem of McWilliams and Connor Romano producing a jolt of confidence by draining three trifecta’s as the Roadrunners held a 39-31 lead at halftime. McWilliams (16 points) and Romano (12 points) accounted for 28 points including six treys. Ramapo ended up shooting 57 percent from the field.
“We were struggling to score a little bit [in the first half],” McWilliams said, “They were switching quite a bit and [it was] hard to get downhill on them. We got hot and hit a couple of shots and Marquise [Kindel] had five offensive rebounds in the first half and that alone gave us a boost.”
“What they decided to do was pack it in so much and give the three.” Thankfully Connor had a good night shooting and so did McWilliams. If we don’t shoot the ball the way we did in the first half, 7 for 11, we’re not winning at halftime,” McBreen said, “They should have not got to 31 at halftime, we were struggling defensively with Destin and point guard on the ball screen and we made an adjustment at halftime and changed our coverage.”
In the second half, McWilliams did not cool off, dropping in 10 more points while Jordan Zagadou (14 points) and Jason Battle (10 points) started to heat up as well chipping in 10 points apiece as the lead ballooned to 14 points at 53-39 with 12 minutes left. After Destin nabbed 14 points in the first half, the Roadrunners defense clamped down limiting him to six points and Azemi to two points after a 10-point first half. The margin never dipped below double digits as Ramapo cruised to victory with McWilliams pouring in a season-high 26 points. Four players finished in double figures and Kindel was a one-man effort on the glass pulling down 17 rebounds. “Marquise is a rebounding machine and cleans up the floor at 6’2 and does an unbelievable job of rebounding the basketball,” McBreen said, “He is a warrior on the glass and has been so good and passionate about the game and gives his best on every play and pleasure to coach him.”
The Roadrunners shot 50 percent from the field, canning 10 three-pointers, outrebounding Rutgers-Camden 45-24 and winning second chance points 26-8. More importantly, once the final buzzer sounded, an announcement was made that McBreen notched his 400th career coaching victory and was presented the game ball by Athletic Director Harold Crocker.
“It’s been quite amazing, Ramapo College was not a basketball school before I came here. I replaced a guy that was 5-20 and believe they had three winning seasons in school history before we got here,” McBreen said, “I would have never dreamed of it and said to them I’m a very humble person and not about personal accolades. If I keep coaching and have players like this, these numbers and milestones will come. I’m blessed to be coaching them and fortunate to get to this number.”
“I was extremely worried about this team, we won only by three in double OT and could have easily lost down there.” Back and forth and never had anything in control,” McBreen continued, “The way we came out tonight trading baskets and could not get a stop. We finally settled in and got some stops and little separation before the half and then get it up into double figures.”
Currently, Ramapo (14,9 10-6 NJAC) is tied with Rutgers-Newark for third place in the conference standings. Next up for the Roadrunners is a match-up against William Paterson on Saturday at the Bradley Center with tip-off set for 3:00 p.m. and Senior Day as well. The last time the teams’ squared off on January 18th, Ramapo won 69-49.
“This is about trying to go 1-0 on Saturday and I told them that in the locker room,” McBreen said, “I know it’s a big day for the seniors, will not get caught up in it and trying to win a basketball game. I’m proud of them and blessed I got an opportunity to coach them but at the end of the day once the pictures are taken and ball goes up it’s a basketball game. Our Final Four team from 1991 is coming back and honoring them at the game. It’s a big day and we have to come ready to play and hope we’re fortunate to get out of there with a W.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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