The Ramapo Roadrunners men's basketball team suffered an 81-61 loss at the hands of William Paterson University in their final game of the season.
Already out of NJAC tournament contention, the Roadrunners stepped onto the court yesterday night to play for pride. Although the final score tells a tale of defeat, the numbers do not write this entire story. Emotion, heart and a willingness to fight until the final buzzer is what defined this Ramapo squad as they walked off the court together for the final time. Before the game, coach Chuck McBreen spoke of ending the season on a high note to inspire maximum effort out of his players.
"We haven't had the season that we would've liked to, but let's start something for next year by going out on a positive and taking care of business tonight," McBreen said.
The night began on a high note as Ramapo's three graduating seniors, Terry Hicks, Jermaine Emmanuel and Patrick O'Connell, were all honored at center court with their families. However, the mood changed two minutes into the game as Ramapo junior Elvonney Poole was ejected for allegedly punching William Paterson junior Jaques Conceicao.
This invigorated both sides as well as the Ramapo fans, as chants of "defense" and "lets go Po" echoed throughout the Bradley Center. The game was played at a vacillating pace with neither side able to get into their offensive sets. William Paterson junior Nick Smith provided an impressive 11 points, going 3-4 from the field and 2-2 from downtown, giving his team a 37-27 lead at the break.
The Roadrunners were not going down without a fight. Five minutes into the second half, they were able to close the gap and cut the lead to three. William Paterson's speed and defensive intensity proved to be the difference as they forced 10 turnovers and were scoring fast break points with ease.
The Pioneers poured on a 13-point lead with seven minutes to go and never looked back. Their full court press stifled Ramapo's attack, and their ball movement ate the clock. William Paterson won the battle of the boards as they out rebounded Ramapo 44-28. The Roadrunners showed true grit and desire, but the better team was victorious.
Emmanuel led the team with 19 points but shot a substandard 28 percent from the field.
"His shot selection wasn't good, so I thought he needed to drive it more and attack the basket," McBreen said.
Emmanuel responded to his coach's advice by finishing the game 7-8 from the charity stripe.
William Paterson senior Javae King-Gilchrist had a big night with 16 points and 17 rebounds. He controlled the open court, taunted the crowd and also earned the respect of McBreen.
"He's the best player in the league, and he lets you know it, too," McBreen said.
With only three seniors, the team relied heavily on production from underclassmen. Hopefully the experience these players gained through out this tough season will prepare them to get back to their winning ways next year.