Ramapo College holds off Rutgers-Newark on the road
Ramapo College moved into sole possession of first place in the NJAC after defeating a feisty Rutgers-Newark team on the road.
Even against under .500 teams in the NJAC, nothing has come easy for Ramapo College this season. Facing off against the Rutgers-Newark (8-12, 4-10 NJAC) at The Golden Dome in Newark on Wednesday, the Roadrunners had to battle for the entire 40 minutes in a very physical contest that extended beyond the final horn. Both coaching staffs, players and some fans got into a post-game altercation with police called in to separate everyone.
Ramapo came out blazing in the first half behind the tenacious play of senior forward Christopher Moseley scoring 10 of his 15 points on the night as the Roadrunners built a 15-5 lead. However, the offense fell into a scoring drought as they tallied just four points in the span of 8:20. That enabled Rutgers-Newark to climb back and trim the deficit down to 21-18. Scarlet Raiders sophomore guard Chase Barneys caught fire from beyond the arc, drilling a trio of threes while pouring in 13 of his 15 points for the game.
Despite picking up his second foul with 4:30 remaining, senior forward Thomas Bonacum gave Ramapo the lift it needed canning a pair of trifectas in 28 seconds boosting the lead to 29-20. The Roadrunners ended up taking a 34-24 lead at halftime.
“We knew it was going to be a grind and we sweated it out. We didn’t do a good job of closing it out, but I’m happy we got the W,” said Head Coach Chuck McBreen. Tommy (Bonacum) played the way we expected all year and put up the type of numbers expected out of him. We needed every bit of it because they defended and nothing is easy. They played zone that gave us problems tonight but at the end of the night able to pull it out.”
“18 turnovers tonight and a lot of them unforced. Where we are lacking lately is our bench scoring. Earlier in the year, our bench was saving our starters. Now it’s the reverse role so it’s a situation where we have to get back to the drawing board and work on the fundamentals. 17 points in the first six minutes and we go the next four game-high five minutes without a point and we’re in a 17-14 game. We have been struggling to score all year.”
Early in the second half, the Roadrunners expanded the margin to 38-24 but Rutgers-Newark refused to cave in thanks to the play of Tyler Ofray pumping in 19 of his game high 24 points as the Scarlet-Raiders close the gap to 44-41 with less than 12 minutes on the clock.
Bonacum drilled his third three-pointer a minute later to give Ramapo a six-point lead. Methodically, the Roadrunners started to pad their margin as a three-pointer from senior guard Josh Ford upped the advantage to 58-48 with 4:23 remaining. There was absolutely no quit in Rutgers-Newark as they cut the deficit down to three points two minutes later.
With the game hanging in the balance, senior forward Nick Stanek (11 points) came up clutch on a lay-up and a trifecta to extend the Roadrunner lead to 63-55 with 1:09 left. Once again the Rutgers-Newark displayed plenty of resistance shaving the margin down to 64-61 with five seconds left. Held to a total of four points, sophomore Patrick Peterson contributed the two most important points of the game canning a pair of free throws to seal the victory.
“It really hit me that I have a few games left in my career and it’s time to do whatever it takes to win,” said Bonacum. “I haven’t been scoring early in the year and Coach (McBreen) has been getting on me and I know I have to be aggressive, so that’s what I’m trying to do.”
“When we’re struggling to score, someone has to step up. We don’t want our season and careers to end so we are going to fight. We needed a lead going into halftime. I was lucky I got two good looks and they fell. I have been trying to work on my shot recently because I haven’t been shooting a good percentage and I’m lucky I hit two big ones.”
“If we want to win a championship, everyone has to step up and make big plays. One game at a time and anytime you can get a win on the road is big. Now we move on.”
With TCNJ losing to Rowan, the Roadrunners (16-5, 12-2 NJAC) leapfrogged back into first place in the conference, one game ahead of New Jersey City University (17-4, 11-3 NJAC) and The College of New Jersey (16-5, 11-3 NJAC). On Saturday afternoon Ramapo squares off against TCNJ at the Bradley Center with tip-off set for 3:00 p.m. Back on January 6th, the Roadrunners dropped a heartbreaker at the buzzer to the Lions.
“Saturday is a big game. The last one we lost at the buzzer, and we know they are coming off a loss so have our work cut out for us,” McBreen said. Hopefully, we get in two good practices tomorrow and Friday and get ourselves properly prepared for this big match-up.”