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Bonacum propels Ramapo College to Sweet 16

With 3:17 remaining in the second half, the Ramapo College Roadrunners were on the ropes, Williams College had responded with a 7-0 run to take a 59-58 advantage on their home court and in front of a raucous crowd at Chandler Gym. Head Coach Chuck McBreen challenged his senior led starting five unit, this is what you have in your 3:17; either moving on to the Sweet 16 and getting out of the first weekend or your careers are over for good.

The seniors heard the message loud and clear by keeping their composure, first starting with senior forward Christopher Moseley (8 points) draining a pair of free throws putting Ramapo back on top 60-59 17 seconds later. However, the real difference maker on this night was senior forward Thomas Bonacum, knocking down four free throws including keeping the ball from going out of bounds and feeding senior forward Nick Stanek for a lay-up putting an exclamation on a dramatic 66-62 comeback win and Roadrunners first trip to the Sweet 16 since the 2004-05 season.

Bonacum erupted in the second half tallying 19 of his season high 33 points while pulling down 13 rebounds for the game. In the second half Bonacum shot five of seven from the perimeter including three trifecta’s and perfect six for six from the foul line.

“These guys have such focus and desire to advance out of this weekend and to do it on Williams home court and a team that went to the Final Four was just amazing,” said McBreen. “They stayed together and showed the heart of a champion. They just grinded it out even when we had the lead most of the half and could have gotten away when they took the one point lead but we came right back down and Moseley hit two free throws and we got stops.”

“Tommy (Bonacum) proved to be an All-American today because he took the game over scored half our points and dominated the glass. We crushed them on the boards and Tommy was a big part of that. Tommy is such a special player and person, he is a better person than a player and hard to imagine that because he is such a good player. Everybody from our administration to our coaching staff to the fans love to see Tommy succeed because he gets it and does it the right way in life. We don’t want this to end and at one point in my career my coaching Tommy will end and is going to be a sad day for me.”

In the first half, the Roadrunners fell behind as many as nine points. Trailing 33-25 with 4:24 left, Ramapo flipped the script with stellar defense holding Williams College the rest of the half. Bonacum scored five of his 14 points as the Roadrunners took a 35-33 lead at halftime.

“The guys stayed the course and told them what the game plan was and big 10-0 run to end the half and held them scoreless the last three or four minutes and got into the locker room,” McBreen said. “We knew at that point we could win the game and guys in the locker room knew we were 20 minutes away from making history.”

“Their program is such at a high level, they don’t compete for conference championships, compete for national championships every year. Amazing to into their gym and in front of a hostile environment and step up to the challenge and to come out on top. We held this team to 17 points below their scoring average on their floor, went to the Final Four last year and overall number one seed in the tournament. We had some great wins in my 20 years but this might be the greatest win here.”

Next up for Ramapo College (23-6) is a Sweet 16 match-up against Franklin & Marshall (22-6) with the location, time and date yet to be determined. The Diplomats defeated Christopher Newport 66-52 in the second round.

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Sunil Sunder Raj

Since July of 2014 Sunil Sunder Raj has been with In The Zone. Sunil has experience covering minor league baseball, high school and college sports. A beat writer for the Rockland Boulders for six years, Ramapo College men’s basketball for four years, NJIT men’s basketball and Seton Hall women’s basketball. Now focusing on feature articles about athletes, coaches and sports media professionals. A graduate of Ramapo College of New Jersey with a bachelor of arts degree in journalism.
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