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Monday April 15th

TCNJ men’s basketball defeats Ramapo in first round of NJAC tournament

<p><em>The College huddled during a stoppage in play (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator).</em></p>

The College huddled during a stoppage in play (Photo courtesy of Elizabeth Gladstone / Multimedia Coordinator).

By Eddie Young
Sports Editor

The College’s men’s basketball team beat Ramapo College on the road in the first round of the New Jersey Athletic Conference Tournament. They were able to keep their season alive for at least one more game, as they won by a score of 81-74 in the Feb. 17 game. 

This was the third matchup between the Lions and Ramapo this season. They split the two previous matchups, with the College winning 82-74 at home on Jan. 13 and Ramapo winning 88-83 in their home game on Feb. 10. These matchups showed there was not much separating the two teams, and that this would be a very close playoff matchup.

The College and Ramapo both had 11-7 conference records, but Ramapo was given the fourth seed due to their superior record against the top three teams in the conference. Therefore, Ramapo, as the No. 4 team in the conference, was given the right to host this game over the fifth seeded Lions.

The College took an early lead in the game. They scored first and were able to stay in front for the entirety of the first half. The effort was led by sophomore guard Nick Koch, who had 23 of his 29 points in the game in the first half. His offense helped the Lions gradually build their lead throughout the half, and they went into halftime with a 42-34 lead.

In the second half, the Lions and the Roadrunners kept going back and forth on mini-runs. Ramapo was able to cut the lead to three with 15:35 left in the half, but the College was able to respond, and pushed their lead up 12 with 11:15 left. Ramapo kept things relatively close, but they were never able to shrink the Lions’ lead to less than four points. The Lions never lost the lead once during the game, and earned a wire-to-wire 81-74 victory.

Koch and his 29 points led the offensive production once again for the College. He went 11 of 17 from the field and made all three of his three pointers. 

“I just tried to get by my man and make Ramapo rotate off-ball as much as I could, which would lead to other people or even myself being open,” Koch, an undeclared business major, said about his performance. “I wouldn’t have played as good as I had today if I didn’t have my teammates by my side through every step of the way.”

Freshman guard David Alexandre also had an impressive performance, with a 15 point, 12 rebound double-double in 25 minutes off the bench. Sophomore forward Matthew Solomon also had a double-double himself, getting 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in the game. 

The Lions will now look ahead to Feb. 21 as they prepare to take on the top team in the NJAC, Rowan University. They are ranked as the No. 21 Division III team in the country and earned a first round bye in the conference tournament, but the College split their two previous affairs with them so far this season. 

Rowan was 13-5 in the NJAC this season, but one of those five losses came on Nov. 29 when the College traveled to Glassboro, New Jersey to steal a road win, 82-72. They were able to get their revenge in Packer Hall on Jan. 24 when they beat the Lions 92-83. 

The College will travel to Glassboro on Feb. 21 to try to keep their season alive and earn the right to play in the NJAC Tournament final.

“Same way we went into [the Ramapo] game, we are going to start preparing for this Rowan game by being mentally engaged in practice and sticking to Coach Goldsmith’s script,” Koch said. “Everything else will do its part.”


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