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(Photo by Jonathan Izquierdo - Double G Media)

(Photo by Jonathan Izquierdo – Double G Media)

Unable to get any easy looks at the basket and points in the paint, Ramapo College found themselves in a 33-26 deficit at halftime. The Roadrunners were ice cold from the perimeter going 5:28 of the first half without a field goal and shooting 28 percent from the field. Junior forward Thomas Bonacum and Christopher Moseley had combined for one point. The only bright spot was junior guard Josh Ford who came out on fire tallying 10 points within the first 4 minutes.

However, Head Coach Chuck McBreen said there was no panic at halftime and just a matter of committing to defense, getting stops and rebounds. “We didn’t do anything in the first half, not guarding anyone and any offense. We average 86 points a game and only had 26. We told our players to come out with more aggression and had to play defense. Not a insurmountable lead but had to get stops one at a time and chip away.”

Misericordia expanded its lead to 41-30 with 16:56 when the tide turned thanks to the bench play of the Roadrunners. Freshman guard Patrick Peterson gave Ramapo the lift it needed scoring six of his game-high 15 minutes lead as the margin whittled down to 41-36 with less than 15 minutes left. Behind a loud and raucous sell-out crowd of 1,458 at the Bradley Center, Ramapo kept charging ahead with tenacious defense, blocking shots and hustling for loose balls.

Josh Ford’s slashing left handed drive lay up to the basket tied the game up at 44-44 with 11:34 remaining. 29 seconds later an end-to-end transition lay up by Ford gave the Roadrunners their first lead since the 9:58 mark of the first half. Senior guard Cory Soanes and Ford got out on the fast break with Soanes dishing to Ford for the lay up making it 48-44. Ford was not done, knocking down a trifecta with 8:55 to go extending the margin to 53-46 making it a 23-5 run.

“Coach told us about players stepping up off the bench or starting five,” said Ford. “He told me to be aggressive and that’s what I did.”

“My job at the three spot is to crash the boards and second chance tip passes,” Sonaes (8 points) explained. “I wasn’t scoring too much but just being involved in the play. I was not ready to go home yet.”

“We had significant contributions from Cory, Pat Peterson, Nick Stanek (10 points, 7 rebounds) and Jordan Zagadou (4 points, 6 rebounds) and won the bench points 37 to 10 and that’s a big part of why we were able to do in the 2nd half and really stepped up for us,” said McBreen. “One of the biggest things we say in our locker room and pride ourselves is unselfishness and these guys play for one another ad do a tremendous job of it. Nobody on this team cares about who gets credit.”

Despite recording only five points in the contest, Bonacum drilled a trey with 1:54 to go boosting the advantage to 66-56. However, the Cougars refused to go away quietly slicing the lead down to 69-63 on a lay up by Alec Rodway(10 points). Ford and Stanek each knocked a pair of free throws to close out the 73-63 victory. After shooting 58 percent from the line in the first half, Ramapo shot 14 for 20 in the second.

(Photo by Jonathan Izquierdo - Double G Media)

(Photo by Jonathan Izquierdo – Double G Media)

“I can’t complain, these guys are 26-2 and know I have been hard on them,” McBreen said. “I try to motivate and push them all the time because I know what they can achieve moving forward. I wish we were a little bit banged up because you could see the true team in this tournament. A lot of people have not given my program the respect because we have not moved further in the tournament since 2005 and last time we were in the Sweet 16.”

“I told them if you want to gain respect you have to earn it so in order for us to move forward we have to do the little things and gain the respect if we won. All we want to do is go 1-0 on each night and win that next game. Because of our firepower we’re never out of it.”

The Roadrunners take on Keene State in the 2nd round of the NCAA Division III on Saturday night at the Bradley Center with tip-off at 7:00 p.m. Keene State defeated Amherst 69-66 in the first game on Friday.

“When you get down to 32 teams in the tournament all of them are good and we’re going to have to play our best,” said McBreen.

Keene State (69) vs. Amherst(66)- Keene State sophomore forward Ty Nichols (19 points) had already electrified the crowd at the Bradley Center on Friday burying a trifecta at the buzzer giving the Owls a 35-33 going into the locker room and ending the first half on a 7-0 run.

Head Coach Ryan Cain stated beforehand Nichols is dynamic player than score a number of different ways and has developed as a player and primary option.

With the contest tied at 66-66 and game on the line, Nichols came up in the clutch again quickly dribbling down the court in the waning seconds and spotting up for a game-winning three-pointer with 2.5 seconds remaining lifting Keene State to a 69-66 victory and into the 2nd round of the NCAA Division III Tournament.

“I had a couple of 3’s early in the 2nd half that had rimmed out for me and got a lot of shots up early in the game,” Nichols said. “I kept shooting and knew one would go in for me and biggest one went in.”

“We have a lot of really good players that share and move the ball and play unselfish and get good looks,” said Cain. “We struggled all year on the road but when it comes to playoff time our guys just stay together, positive and here for each other.”

“We didn’t panic and made the last play. We worked on it this week to get the ball in those situations and Ty did a nice job getting his shot and great look for us and went in. We just made more one extra play and could not be more proud of my guys and the way it went down.”

“Amherst is a terrific team and probably one of the top teams/program in Division III landscape and team I have respected since I started playing basketball in 2003 and wanted to have played in these types of games in late March and NCAA Tournament.”

“For us to advance we’re going to need be at our best, play well and excited for the opportunity and looking forward to it.”

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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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