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Ramapo College five-game winning streak snapped at Kean

Having reeled off five consecutive wins in a row, Ramapo College Roadrunners Head Coach Chuck McBreen stressed to his squad on Monday and Tuesday of Wednesday’s game at Kean University (5-16, 3-11 NJAC) as a trap game. Even with the Cougars having just played and losing by 23 points at Montclair State on Monday night plus sporting a 4-16 record and 2-11 in the NJAC.

“They beat TCNJ down there and in the walk-through went over it, before the game and before we took the floor,” said McBreen. “If we didn’t put the forth the effort and they were going to treat this as their conference game and obviously did not resonate with the way we came out.”

Kean definitely came out smoking from the field, led by Justin Watson canning four trifecta’s as the Cougars built a 27-10 advantage not even eight minutes into the contest. Just when it seemed the game would get out of hand Ramapo answered with a 10-0 cutting the gap to 36-27 with four minutes remaining. Watson ended up scoring 15 points, knocking down five three’s as Kean led 42-31 at intermission.

In the second half, the Cougars managed to push the margin back up to 49-33 with 18 minutes left. However, the Roadrunners responded with a 7-0 run. Fresh off a 15-point performance against Rowan last Saturday at the Bradley Center, Bryant Quill notched another solid outing scoring all of his game high 18 points including a perfect 11 of 11 from the charity strip while Jason Battle tallied 11 of his 15 points. Ramapo ramped up the defensive pressure as the margin closed to four points at 53-49 with 13 minutes to go on the clock.

With Kean leading 59-49, the Roadrunners went on a 12-3 run capped off by a three-point play from Quill as Ramapo took its first lead of the game at 62-61 with 9:16 left.

“Pushing the bus up hill all game long and we would make a run then they would get it back up until we finally took the lead,” McBreen said. “Bryant Quill stepped up big for us and got us back in the game. He is a Division II transfer, we had high hopes for and had some issues early and got off to a slow start but is starting to get it. A lot of these kids come from a losing culture and they don’t understand the accountability that is going to be placed on them in a winning culture at Ramapo College and have to adapt and adjust to standard with what they have to do.”

After Kashaun Barnes knocked down a pair of free throws putting Ramapo up by three points with less than eight minutes remaining, both teams exchanged the lead over the next three minutes. The Roadrunners seemed up get the upper hand sinking six straight free throws to go up 75-70 with less than two minutes left. Ramapo sizzled from the free throw lane burying 30 of 35.

However, Watson was not done from beyond the arc dropping a triple with 1:38 left. After Watson made one of two free throws, he continued to make his presence felt on the court converting a fast break lay-up with 46 seconds remaining. The Roadrunners simply could not hold on to the ball leading to a Micah Kerr breakaway slam dunk with a 12 seconds. Ramapo had one last opportunity to tie the game up as Battle got free for a clean look but his three-point attempt at the buzzer clanged off the back of the rim.

Despite shooting 39 percent, the Roadrunners managed to win the rebounding battle 32-27, bench points 25-18, points off turnovers 24-15 and points in the paint. Kean shot 49 percent from the field, draining 11 three-pointers and had five players in double figures led by Watson’s 21 points. Ramapo had four players in double figures. Barnes netted 12 points while Rob Lewis delivered his 11th double-double of the season with 13 points and 11 rebounds.

“I thought a five point lead with two minutes left against a 4-16 team we would find a way to close it out and get out of there with a W,” said McBreen. “It’s probably one of the worst losses in 21 years at Ramapo. One of the keys to the victory guarding the three-point line and did a terrible job guarding and total lack of effort on the defensive end.”

Ramapo (15-6, 9-5) returns to action on Saturday afternoon against TCNJ (12-9, 8-6 NJAC) with tip-off set for 3:00 at the Bradley Center. The Roadrunners will look to extend their undefeated record and streak to 24 games in the row. Currently the team is tied with Montclair State for third place in the conference standings. Last time both teams’ met back in the January, the Lions won a close contest 85-83.

“We have to hold serve on home court and they beat us on a questionable call down there with two seconds left in the game but again we started slow like here at Kean down 291-0 and had to push the bus up hill the entire game as well,” McBreen said. “On the road we need effort and mental toughness and had neither and struggled on the road. They’re one game behind us and if we don’t find a way to take care of business on Saturday not only will they be tied with us but hold the tiebreaker with a season sweep over us and the magnitude of this game is huge.”

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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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