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Ramapo falls short to New Jersey City in regular season finale, 81-78

Looking to head into the NJAC with some momentum, the Ramapo College men’s basketball team wrapped up the 2019-20 regular season schedule against New Jersey City University at the John J. Moore Athletics & Fitness Center. Tip-off for the game ended up getting delayed to almost 8:45 p.m. due to the women’s basketball game going to overtime.

With an electric playoff atmosphere coupled with Senior Night, the Gothic Knights came out with a lot of energy in the first half. Tied at 19-19 with less than 10 minutes remaining, NJCU went on a 12-5 run. Jaimik Moore (13 points) and Jeff Haddock Jr. (12 points) inflicted the most damage combining to score 25 points with Haddock canning four trifecta’s. Feeding off a boisterous home crowd, the Gothic Knights extended the advantage to 41-32 with less than three minutes to go.

However, Travis Bennett provided a spark off the bench scoring five points of his eight points in the half and Marquis Kindel poured in 12 points as the Roadrunners trimmed the deficit to 43-40 at halftime.

“I love that environment and it makes me play better,” said Marquise Kindel. “At the end of the day I tell my coach I don’t hear the crowd or nobody and know how to block it out and just hear the coach. It all just comes from the love of the game, getting in the weight room, watching film and when I’m in practice just taking advantage of being there. Not a lot of guys get to play college basketball.”

In the second half, the tide began to turn in the favor of Ramapo. Jordan Zagadou chipped in five quick points that tied the game at 50-50 with 16 minutes to go. Attacking the basket relentlessly enabled the Roadrunners to go on a 10-2 run taking their largest lead of the contest at 60-52 with less than 12 minutes left. NJCU responded with a run of their own that narrowed the gap to 64-63 at the seven-minute mark.

Foul trouble plagued Ramapo with Bennett and Jason Battle both on the bench with four fouls apiece. The Gothic Knights kept charging ahead to reclaim the advantage at 67-66 with under six minutes left. A back and forth heavyweight duel would ensue the rest of the way with both teams’ trading baskets. The Roadrunners held a slim 76-75 lead with two minutes on the clock but Jahmere Calhoun buried a triple. Moore sank a pair of free throws to make it a 79-76 margin but Rob McWillams responded in the same fashion that made it a one-point game with 10 seconds left.

Fouling Denzel Banks with seven seconds left, Banks calmly stepped up to the charity stripe line and drained the free throws stretching the advantage to 81-78. With time winding down the Roadrunners were unable to get a clean look at the basket for a game tying shot as the clock expired. Kindel led Ramapo in scoring with 25 points and 8 rebounds while Zagadou contributed 15 points.

For NJCU, Moore had a double-double with 23 points and 12 rebound while three other Gothic Knights players were in double figures. The Roadrunners won in a landslide with points in the paint 50-34 while the Gothic Knights won controlled points off turnovers 19-17, fast break points 23-17 and bench points 21-18. Ramapo shot a sizzling 19 of 21 from the free throw line.

Head Coach Chuck McBreen on the loss, “I thought we let it get away at the 10-minute mark. I made two substitutions, we were getting and up 60-52. Then we gave up a lay-up and momentum really started to shift. They came out in the first half and had only had nine points and last 10 had about 30 and gave them some momentum and never got the control back.”

“Even at the end we are down and missed a shot. There are 40 seconds left and we didn’t jam rebounders and they get a lay-up to go up three and should not be happening. We should have got back on defense and got a stop and got the ball back down one. Instead we lost our discipline. We gave up lay-ups off rebounding and free throws. At the end of the day we had opportunities, they wanted it more and it’s disappointing.”

“We’re talking about a three-point loss, this was a one-point game down the stretch and last few minutes. We kept taking a one-point lead, they kept coming back and they got a stop”

“Marquise (Kindel) is a warrior, tough kid from East Orange and in this game is he is going to play and excel. I was very happy with his performance but needed a couple of guys to join him on this night and would have got the W.”

Marquise Kindel on the defeat, “It comes down to making plays they scored and we scored. They came down and made a stop and couple of undisciplined plays and we have to work on that in practice. Discipline is what it takes to beat a team like Jersey City. Down the line a situation like that makes us better and to make more plays and stops.”

Heading into the first round of the NJAC Tournament, Ramapo (15-10, 11-7 NJAC) is locked in the third seed and will be facing off against sixth seed Rowan University (14-11, 10-8) on Saturday February 22 at the Bradley Center with tip-off set for 1:00 p.m. The Roadrunners won both games against the Profs during the regular season.

“We don’t have too much time, two days to clean this up and it is what is,” said McBreen. “The other thing either way and have on our side is home. Hoping the crowd is behind us and difference in getting over the top.”

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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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