The Roadrunners men’s basketball team defeated the 17th ranked Richard Stockton Ospreys 52-46 in a must-win game on Saturday at the Bradley Center. Ramapo was looking to keep their playoff hopes alive and gain an edge over the teams they are chasing for a playoff position, including Rowan, The College of New Jersey, New Jersey City University and Rutgers-Newark.
“We’re trying to keep them focused. We have a lot of young freshman and it’s their first time playing in college,” said Ramapo’s 17th year head coach Chuck McBreen.
“Out of our rotation, six of those guys are freshman, one of them a sophomore. So, this is their first time experiencing college, the length of the season, the wear and tear of the season, the physicality of the season and all. So, it hasn’t been easy trying to get them to break through a barrier of where they feel mentally and physically shot.”
For the Roadrunners, freshman forward Thomas Bonacum came through with a double-double, scoring 13 points, and pulling in 15 rebounds. Team captain Frank Nock finished the game with 12 points of his own, and freshman forward Ve’Shawn Polite scored 10 points on the day. The Roadrunners went 18-55 (33 percent) from the field on the day. Other Ramapo standouts include fellow rookies James Long, who had four assists in the game, and Christopher Moseley, who collected four steals.
For the Ospreys of Richard Stockton, junior guard Armin Cane, scored 13 points to tie Ramapo’s Thomas Bonacum for the game lead, grabbed five steals and made two of the Ospreys’ 27 three-point attempts in the game. Sophomore guard Tom Catanoso finished the game with six points. He scored all of his points from three-point territory. Senior forward Anthony Woodard shot 5-6 (83 percent) from the field while the rest of the team went 13-56 (23.2 percent) from the floor combined. Woodard posted a double-double with 11 apiece in points and rebounds.
The Ospreys held the edge in rebounding 48-41, but they gave the ball away 19 times, which converted into 17 points for the Roadrunners. The Ospreys finished the game with season lows in both points (46) and field goal percentage (29 percent).
The Roadrunners got off to a hot start going on an early 10-4 run capped off with a Nock field goal, forcing the Ospreys to call the first timeout of the game. Three minutes after that, Cane drained a three-ball to tie it at 15 with Ramapo having to waste a timeout. The game was a seesaw for the remainder of the first half with the score of 23-20 in favor of the Roadrunners at intermission.
The second half started with the Roadrunners taking a 29-20 advantage before Cane made two free throws. The Roadrunners built a 32-21 lead when Catanoso made a long jumper and Cane buried a two-pointer to cut the lead to six with 12:21 left. Three minutes later, Catanoso would strike with a three-pointer to make it a one-point game.
However, senior guard Jermaine Dunkins would put the Roadrunners up three with a two-pointer of his own. Woodard would cut the lead to just one before Ramapo scored four points to take a five-point lead as Nock sunk two foul shots with 6:41 left in the game.
The Roadrunners continued to lead, climbing to a six-point advantage with Nock adding two more baskets with 3:16 left in the game. Woodard would then cut the lead to one with 1:39 left to go and Polite extended the lead to four with a little over a minute to go for Ramapo. The Roadrunners would clinch the major conference win with two more points.
The Roadrunners improved their record to 13-9 overall and 7-8 in the New Jersey Athletic Conference while Richard Stockton drops to 18-4 on the year and 12-3 in the NJAC. With Ramapo’s win over Richard Stockton, William Paterson takes over the number one seed in the NJAC Playoff bracket, dropping Richard Stockton down to the number two seed.
Pregame, Nock emphasized avoiding a repeat of last year’s disappointing season, one that saw the Roadrunners miss the NJAC Tournament after winning a Conference Championship the season prior.
“Coming off a season like last year, where we didn’t make the playoffs, it hurt,” said Nock. “So, not trying to repeat last year, trying to build, go farther from last year. When we go to the tournament, we’ll be dangerous.”