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Ramapo College 7-game winning streak ends in 98-78 loss at Montclair State

Coming off an impressive 69-53 victory over first place Stockton at the Bradley Center last Saturday, the Ramapo College Roadrunners were on a roll. The Roadrunners had extended their winning streak to seven games while moving up the standings in the New Jersey Athletic Conference (NJAC).

On the other hand, Montclair State was trending in the opposite direction, having dropped four in a row to fall below .500 on the season.

The Roadrunners had won seven out of the 10 in the series but the Red Hawks won the first meeting this season back on December 4, 80-76.

Tied early at 8-8 in the first half at the Panzer Athletic Center, Montclair State caught fire from beyond the arc, burying six trifecta’s that turned into a 25-13 advantage with 11 minutes remaining. A quick 5-0 run from the Roadrunners trimmed the deficit to single digits but the Red Hawks continued to unleash a barrage of triples. Knocking four more form downtown to boost the margin to 38-22 with seven minutes left.

Ramapo had no answer in containing the combo of Akbar Hoffman and Jospeh Radi combing for 22 points and hitting six three’s. All together, Montclair State canned 13 treys that led to a commanding 55-37 lead at halftime, shooting 60 percent from the field and a wide gap in bench points at 23-8. Jason Battle tallied 10 of his 15 points for the Roadrunners.

“They shot it really well but I don’t think we did a good job of challenging shots and a lot of them were open,” explained Ramapo head coach Chuck McBreen. “I think our defense was very poor tonight. We had been playing very good defense in the last seven wins and tonight from the beginning I made it a point in the first two and half minutes they had 8 or 10 points and that was too much and not guarding anybody and stayed that way the whole game.”

In the second half the numbers did not fare any better with Montclair State’s full court press defense leading to numerous steals and transition points. Ramapo committed nine turnovers  and 16 overall that led to 21 points for the Red Hawks. Three’s continued to rain down as the Red Hawks sank six more as the lead ballooned to as many as 24 points with 12 minutes to go and eventually coasting to the 98-78 victory and snapping the Roadrunners seven-game winning streak.

“We worked on it for two days and it really bothered us,” said McBreen. “We did a terrible job of breaking it and they do this all the time and like we never saw it before. I was disappointed with our effort and way we handled the pressure. At the end of the day we were never in the game, coming off a seven-game winning streak and we needed to keep pace and got punched in the mouth.”

“Our rebounding on the defensive end is blocking out and that’s all effort and it was terrible. It was more in the second half, we were tied at the half both offensive and defensive and got outscored by 10 rebounds in the second half.”

Jordan Zagadou also scored a game high 15 points while Marquis Kindel and Manny Warren chipped in 10 points apiece. For Montclair State, Hoffmann top all scorers with 26 points while Steve Breeman poured in 17 points. The Red Hawks outrebounded Ramapo 40-30 and in bench points 39-24 while the Roadrunners dominated the points in the paint 44-26.

“They (Montclair State) were 6-1 and tied with Stockton in the beginning of the season,” McBreen said.  “Somehow they went into a lull, we beat (William) Paterson by 20, they came here dropped 91 on them, lost to (Rutgers) Camden and Kean and didn’t look like that team tonight.”

“The bottom line is that I said to them they are going to be up for us, won seven in a row and been the best team in this league for years and going to bring their A game tonight and we were not ready for the challenge. After this game we have to get back to the drawing board and get ready for Rowan.”

Ramapo (11-8, 7-5 NJAC) finishes up the road trip on Saturday February 1 at Rowan University (9-10, 5-7 NJAC) with tip-off set for 1:00 p.m. The last time the two teams met on December 14 at the Bradley Center, Matt Latka’s game winner at the buzzer allowed the Roadrunners to prevail 77-76. Currently there is a four-way tie for third place in the NJAC standings.

“We don’t have time to cry over it,” said McBreen. “Rowan is going to press us the whole time down there and play the same way as Montclair State and we have our work cut out for us on Saturday.”

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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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