In an unforeseen turn of events, the Ramapo men’s basketball team stunned the packed student section this past Friday when Thomas Bonacum tossed an insane Hail Mary buzzer-beating half court shot to lead the Roadrunners to a 67-64 victory over the #3 seeded Gothic Knights of New Jersey City University.
The win solidified the #1 seeded Roadrunners as the 2017 NJAC champions, and earned them an automatic bid to the NCAA Championship Tournament. This is the sixth time that Head Coach Chuck McBreen has taken a team to the national tournament, and the fourth time McBreen has coached a team that has won an NJAC Championship.
The game was tight throughout all four quarters of play. Although NJCU was the first team to score on a three-pointer, Ramapo quickly answered back with ten points of their own. While the two teams tied it up at 28 each with just a little over seven minutes on the clock, NJCU’s consistent outside shots and effortless threes put them up 46-35. The Gothic Knights hit 11 threes in the first half and Bonacum led Ramapo with 14 points.
The second half consisted of the score bouncing back and forth in favor of either team just as much as it had in the first. NJCU came out of the locker room posting a 13-point lead. After a couple threes and two six-point runs, Ramapo battled back to come within one point, making the score 55-54, and causing two NJCU timeouts.
The Gothic Knights were not going down without a fight. Another flawlessly executed three-pointer put the Knights in the lead by four with only six minutes left on the clock. Ramapo recorded two threes of their own, and after a foul and another timeout as well as three more lead changes, the game was tied at 64 with only three seconds left in the game.
As the buzzer sounded signaling the end of the game, Bonacum hit the half court buzzer-beating three-pointer, a play that quickly circulated around the Internet on sites such as Fox Sports, ESPN, Sports Center and Bleacher Report. The fans were ecstatic and stormed the court in celebration and a unanimous display of school pride.
Nick Stanek, who added six points in the second half, including two important free throws that put the Roadrunners up by one at a pivotal point in the game, expressed how crucial it was that his teammates play their hardest while still supporting each other.
“I was really calm and knew I had to make the free throws for my team. Tom [Bonacum] said to me before I shot them that if he could pick anyone to be shooting them, it’d be me, which gave me more confidence.”
Stanek felt that the ending to the game was surreal, and said that being crowned NJAC champions still has yet to register with him.
“It was like a dream. When I ran onto the court it was really like I was in a dream. I still can’t believe it, and I don’t think it’ll hit me until the season is over.”
The Roadrunners will face Misericordia University on Friday at 7:30 p.m. in the Bradley Center when they host the opening round of the NCAA Championship Tournament.