The Ramapo Roadrunners men’s basketball team lost to the Morrisville State Mustangs, 86-78, on Saturday at a packed Nyack College. The loss eliminated the Roadrunners from the NCAA tournament, ending their season abruptly in the first round.
Roadrunner fans were crushed by the loss but proud of their team’s drive until the end.
“It was upsetting to lose, but they never gave up,” junior Cassidy Straniero said. “Even when it looked like the game was over, they fought back.”
The game started out fast-paced and full of energy, with both teams trading leads back and forth. There was also plenty of physicality. Ten minutes into the game, both teams went over the foul limit, leading to plenty of free points for both sides. Morrisville State took a nine-point lead into halftime and never looked back.
Ramapo started the second half with a badly-timed cold streak, going three minutes without putting a point on the board. Morrisville took advantage and at one point during the game held a 20-point lead over the Roadrunners. After a timeout, Ramapo regrouped and started pressing the Mustangs and crashing the boards.
Led by co-captain Stephon Treadwell, who scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, the Roadrunners worked their way back into the game. Senior Elgin Brown also scored 24 points in a losing effort. Treadwell and Brown proved to be the centerpiece of the Roadrunners’ second-half offense.
After falling behind by as many as 20 points, Ramapo began to full-court press the Mustangs. It was effective, bringing the game to as close as six points with under a minute left. Late free throws by Morrisville, however, ended the Roadrunners’ chance at completing the comeback.
One downfall to Ramapo’s play was getting into early foul trouble. Three Roadrunners fouled out of the game, including senior captains Garret Thiel and Anthony LoRusso. The Roadrunners also kept pace with the Mustangs in every category, except for bench points. Morrisville received 20 points from its back-up players, compared to just two by Ramapo.
As the season comes to an end, so have the college careers of the team’s seniors. The men’s basketball team will lose six players, including all of their starters and all three captains. The team’s leading scorer for the season, Will Sanborn, will also graduate.
It may seem like a big loss for the program, but the experience of the remaining players will prove vital next season. Players such as guards Patrick O’Connell and Keith Benthall and forward John Martens have all seen plenty of playing time during the season and postseason.
The basketball squad will have to replace seniors, however, that have plenty of experience and who brought home the school its first New Jersey Athletic Conference championship in six years and led the team to two NCAA tournament bids.