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Ramapo College Outlasts Montclair State in OT Thriller, Advances to 2nd Straight NJAC Tournament Final

Back on January 24 when the Ramapo College Roadrunners played Montclair State at the Panzer Athletic Center, the Red Hawks held the Roadrunners to their lowest scoring output of the season at 60 points. With a week to prepare for Montclair State(18-9) in the NJAC Tournament Semifinal at the Bradley Center on Wednesday night, Head Coach Chuck McBreen voiced his concern leading up to the impending match-up.

“A tough match-up and they beat us up pretty [good] and did a good job controlling the backboards and did not contain Myles-Mitchell White,” said McBreen. “They shoot the three at 37% and get the three off the driving kick-off by Mitchell-White and off the balls screen. The winning formula for us is to drive into the basket and get to the rim and get on the free throw line. Pat Peterson at the Bradley Center has 16 points and eight rebounds. We have to come to play on our home court and [it’s] extremely important and something we worked hard for and made it a priority.”

The Roadrunners managed to hold Mitchell-White to seven points but right from the opening tip, Montclair State guard Daniel Ramis caught fire from beyond the arc, connecting on four trifecta’s in the first five minutes of action. By the time halftime rolled around, Ramis sank 7 out of 10 three’s for 21 points as the Red Hawks led 36-29 at the intermission break.

Once the second half started, the Roadrunners went ice cold from the perimeter, allowing Montclair State to go on a 12-0 run, expanding the margin to 48-29 with 16 minutes remaining. Ramis continued to sizzle from long range, burying his fifth triple of the night. With the season on the brink and crowd of 650 at the Bradley Center in a hush, Ramapo relied on Patrick Peterson to provide that jolt of confidence and ignite a run. With Montclair State leading 56-42 at the 10:33 mark, Peterson ignited a 12-0 run, scoring ten points that allowed Ramapo to pull within 56-54 with less than eight minutes left as the crowd at the Bradley Center whipped itself into a state of frenzy. Back came Ramis (30 points) sticking a three but Peterson had a rebuttal, totaling five points including a three-pointer with five minutes to go tying the contest up at 59-59. Josh Ford’s (16 points) two free throws gave the Roadrunners their first lead of the game with 4:37 left.

“I don’t want to lose for these seniors and love them like brothers’ and live with three of them,” said Patrick Peterson. “The guys and Coach(McBreen) trusted me so I was feeding off them. We’re a resilient team and the crowd was a big factor.”

A seesaw contest ensued the rest of the way, as the lead changed several times. With the game on the line, Peterson delivered in the clutch, hitting one of two free throws  after a technical foul was assessed on the Red Hawks, tying the game up at 68-68 with 21.4 seconds remaining. Montclair State had one last opportunity to win the game but Mitchell-White’s three-pointer at the buzzer clanged off the rim sending the game into overtime.

In the extra session, Ramapo jumped out to a 72-68 advantage behind free throws from Thomas Bonacum (13 points) and jump shot by Christopher Moseley (18 points). Refusing to throw in the white towel, Montclair State answered back, tying the contest up with 2:14 to go. 18 seconds later, Bonacum hit nothing but net on a jump shot, putting the Roadrunners back up.

Peterson (24 points) punctuated his impressive performance with a dazzling spin around baseline shot and knocked down two free throws. Just when the lead seemed safe at 79-72, the Red Hawks stormed back to cut the lead down to 79-76 with 32 seconds left, but Bonacum sealed the victory by hitting one of two free throws with 14.9 seconds.

“I give them all the credit, the deck was stacked against them, the kid [Kaan] Yilmaz did not suit up and Eddie [Emedoh] goes down and [Jarrett] Bogus gets in foul trouble and they still control the game,” said McBreen. “We caught two breaks late at the end of the day and they fell our way and we were fortunate. Pat(Peterson) was a big factor here in the first game and came in tonight and made some big plays.

“What I said to them in the locker room, these seniors have done so much for this college, the community and personally we don’t want it to end on a sour note and if we lose in the NCAA’s it’s going to be sour but at least we got back in the tournament and won the NJAC. We live to play one more game on Saturday and hopefully means a lot to them and take of business.

On Saturday afternoon at the Bradley Center with tip-off at 3:00 p.m., the Roadrunners(20-6) will seek their second consecutive NJAC Tournament Championship Title, taking on William Paterson University. The Pioneers have become the Cinderella team in the tournament, upsetting New Jersey City University and TCNJ on the road. During the regular season, Ramapo College swept both games.

“They knocked off the top two teams’, so they’re going to be ready for us and very tough for us on Saturday” McBreen said.

“It’s the championship no matter who we are playing and we had a target on our back all year and have to close out the deal and get the victory on Saturday,” Peterson said.

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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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