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Ramapo College extends undefeated streak to 11 games

Ramapo College Head Coach Chuck McBreen’s message to the men’s basketball team before heading out west for the Classic tournament in Las Vegas last week was clear and simple, “Let’s Take Care of Business”.

That is exactly what the Roadrunners accomplished, knocking off the No. 5 ranked and previously unbeaten Salisbury Sea Gulls, 66-65. Then, in the second game, Ramapo cruised past Gustavus Adolphus College, 77-62. With the signature victory over Salisbury, Ramapo rose to number 19 in the Top 25 poll.

Junior forward Thomas Bonacum was named Most Valuable Player of the tournament and senior guard Cory Soanes earned a spot on the All-Tournament team. Bonacum averaged 16.5 points, 6.5 rebounds, 4.0 assists and 2.5 steals during the tournament and also registered his second NJAC Player of the Week honors.

“It’s a tremendous accomplishment for these young men because it’s the first we have done it and had some great teams’ here that have gone to the Final Four, Elite 8 and Sweet 16,” McBreen said. “No team in school history has gone undefeated for a full semester and now set the school record for most wins to start a season and be undefeated going into 2017 which we have never done before.”

“We talked about establishing our own identity and getting a banner on the wall and that can be a part of our history here, he continued. “The whole nucleus coming in here as freshmen of Tommy, Jimbo, Josh, Moseley and Stanek came in together and leave together and all doing good in school and want to accomplish something on the basketball court that can be here forever and credit to them for their hard work.”

The Roadrunners were seemingly in control against the Sea Gulls in the second half leading 51-39 with less than 11 minutes remaining only to watch Salisbury answer with a 20-8 run taking a 60-59 lead with under three minutes to go. However, junior guard Josh Ford took command scoring seven points in a row including draining the game-winning trey with 1:39 left. The game was still up in the air as Salisbury trimmed the lead to 66-65 with 27 seconds and had multiple opportunities to win it but missed two free throws with 7.4 seconds and jump shot at the buzzer. Ford and Bonacum led Ramapo in scoring with 12 points apiece while junior forward Christopher Moseley and senior forward Sultan Aminu each contributed 11 points. The Roadrunners dominated the paint scoring 42 points and forced the Sea Gulls into committing 17 turnovers that led to 21 points.

“Josh was clutch down the stretch and scored the last seven points of the game and made some plays and happy for him because he puts in the effort every day and extra shots and finally knock down a big three,” said McBreen. “A great win against them being number five in the country, undefeated and gave them their first loss.”

In the second game of the tournament, Ramapo had its hands full against Gustavus Adolphus College in the first half but two 10-0 runs catapulted the Roadrunners to a 40-30 advantage at halftime. It was the bench play that sparked Ramapo with Soanes pouring in 13 points of his 19 points and 10 rebounds while freshman guard Patrick Peterson netted nine points. Once again the dominance in the paint proved to be the difference with Ramapo scoring 26 points.

The Roadrunners utilized their size advantage in the second half by pounding the ball in the paint and getting to the free throw line. Bonacum scored the majority of his game-high 21 points while Aminu established his presence down low. A tip-in basket by junior guard James Long pushes the lead to 55-38 with 15:06 left and Ramapo led comfortably the rest of the way.

“We did a good job of not slipping up and taking care of business,” McBreen said. “We pound the ball inside and wear people out. The most important stat for is winning the giveaway/takeaway and stealing points off turnovers and been doing that all year long. We talked about in the locker room about going inside and they could not cover Tommy or Sultan.”

“Cory was fabulous, has that ability, best athlete in the conference and made the all-tournament team,” McBreen explained. “It was a coming out party for Patrick Petersen in only his second or third game due to wrist surgery back in October and has a high basketball IQ. A fierce competitor, work ethic and big part of what we are going to do forward.”

Ramapo returns to New Jersey Athletic Conference play on Wednesday at Rutgers-Camden with a start time of 7 p.m.. This season the Roadrunners are 5-0 and tied with New Jersey City at the top of the standings. On Saturday, Ramapo hosts The College of New Jersey at the Bradley Center with tip-off at 3 p.m.

“We’re excited and have a real tough stretch of opponents coming up and looking forward to the challenge,” said McBreen. “We want to pick up where we left off after the New Year.”

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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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