Ramapo College punches ticket to Final Four
Introduced for the last time as a starting lineup and playing their final home at the Bradley Center in the Elite 8 sectional championship game against MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology) on Saturday night, senior players Thomas Bonacum, Christopher Moseley, Nick Stanek, Jimbo Long and Josh Ford, Long (5 points) said it best afterwards, “I was just trying to go out there and leave it all on the floor and knew it was going to be my last game at the Bradley Center. Knowing we had a shot, 40 minutes of our best basketball to go to the Final Four, took our bumps and bruises throughout the season but know we had been playing our best basketball at the right time.”
After a first half of action where the Engineers dominated from beyond the arc sinking 8-of-14 trifecta’s, the Roadrunners battled back behind the play of Stanek pouring in nine of his 11 points and Bonacum tallying eight of his 10 points in the contest and grabbing 10 rebounds. Ramapo finished off the half on a 6-0 run capped off by Long’s trey at the buzzer giving Ramapo a 44-40 advantage at halftime.
“From last night I just cleared my head and I just tried to be more aggressive as Coach (McBreen) thought I had the advantage on the perimeter and worked out for me,” said Nick Stanek.
“Just did what I had to do and my shot wasn’t falling and they did a great job defending me in the second half and end of the first half and I was getting frustrated but know I had to rebound, distribute the ball and get people open, said Thomas Bonacum.”
The second half became more of a defensive struggle with every possession magnified and both teams’ trading baskets and holding a leader no greater than three points. With the Roadrunners leading 61-58 with less than three minutes remaining, MIT guard Cameron Korb (13 points) in the process of getting fouled buried a trifecta, eventually converting a three-point play.
17 seconds later Christopher Moseley (14 points) put Ramapo back in front with a lay-up. The Engineers responded with less than two minutes to go on a lay-up by Tim Roberts (12 points). Moseley tied the game up at 64-64 knocking down one of two of free throws, the back and forth tussle continued with Roberts dazzling one-handed tap in off the glass putting MIT ahead with 1:07 to go. Bonacum answered that with a spectacular left handed jump shot in the paint with 51 seconds remaining.
The Roadrunners defense stepped up causing an Engineers turnover on a steal by Josh Ford (12 points) with 21 seconds left. After calling a timeout with 16 seconds on the clock, Ramapo milked the clock down to the final seconds and after Bonacum missed a jumper, Moseley positioned himself in a perfect spot unner the basket getting fouled with 00.9 seconds and calmly sinking two free throws making it 68-66. However, MIT had one last opportunity to tie or win the game but Bradley Jomard’s air balled a jump shot setting off a jubilant celebration as the Roadrunners advanced to their first Final Four since 1991.
“I wanted to bring this home for the seniors, we were home and our last home game at the Bradley (Center) for the rest of our lives,” said Moseley. “I didn’t want to be that guy that missed free throws and get the game to OT. We seniors have been four years, same coach and have been battled tested. I feel like I had a good career here, we’re not done yet, great to go out with a win and going to Salem to compete for a national championship.”
Head Coach Chuck McBreen on the win, “Think of it three weeks ago we are playing Montclair and down 19. Look at where we are now and obviously these seniors want to keep on playing and not for it to end. We felt this year with all we had coming back from a 26-3 team and ranked 5th in the country and pre-season this year we have to make a run at the Final Four. People don’t realize how good our defense has been this season, we led the conference in least amount points during a game and best in my 20 years.”
“A total team effort, everybody made plays throughout the game that were big. Amazing feeling and still in shock and we need a day to take this in. What these seniors have done for this community and this college in their four years and represent themselves, team and college with such class, high character guys. The best thing is the way they conduct themselves on this campus. I love all five of them and I’m going to miss them when they eventually go but don’t have to miss them yet.”
With the victory over MIT, the Roadrunners (25-6) finished up the season undefeated at the Bradley Center with a 14-0 record. Next up for Ramapo is a Final Four match-up against Wisconsin-Oshkosh (24-7) at the Salem Civic Center in Salem, Virginia with tip-off set for 5:00 p.m.
“The Bradley Center has been an amazing place for us, I think we may be 26-1 the last two years, said McBreen. I told them when we got to host the Sweet 16 and Final 8 you are going to be in your environment, routine that we do every day and feel comfortable in and crowd support.”
“Hopefully we have two more games left in the season and we feel in the locker room we believe in one another and they believe in me and I believe in them and preparing them properly and at the end of the day left it out on the floor for me for four years. We have gotten better and better every year. Each stage was a progression and advanced our program every year.”
Sunil Sunder Raj
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