MAHWAH, N.J. (NJCUGothicKnights.com) | The Bill Bradley Center is a challenging place to play and that held true in the 2018-19 New Jersey City University regular season finale. NJCU never led and trailed by as many as 16 points in the second half and while a furious comeback allowed the Gothic Knights to draw within one (64-63) with 4:05 remaining, Ramapo College held on for a 74-66 home court New Jersey Athletic Conference win on February 13. It was a matchup of the No. 1 (NJCU) and No. 3 (Ramapo) ranked teams in the region.
The loss for NJCU snaps its six-game winning streak and denies the Gothic Knights a 20-win regular season—something it had not achieved in 27 years. The NJAC regular-season champions end the 25-game schedule at 19-6 overall and 14-4 in the league.
Ramapo College, which has won six consecutive home games against NJCU at home since the 2014-15 season, improved to 17-8 overall and 11-7 NJAC.
The Roadrunners clinch the No. 4 seed in the NJAC Tournament and will host No. 5 seeded William Paterson in the NJAC Quarterfinals on Saturday, February 16. The winner of that game faces NJCU in Jersey City on Tuesday, February 19 at 7 p.m. Should Ramapo win, the two schools will square off twice in a week's time.
RCNJ senior forward Rob Lewis (Scotch Plains, N.J.) led all scorers with 24 points on 8-of-12 shooting and 8-of-10 free throws, adding nine rebounds in a full 40 minutes of action.
Sophomore guard Denzel Banks came off the bench as NJCU's sixth man to produce 20 points (9-19 FG) and eight rebounds in 25 minutes.
Also for NJCU, senior small forward James Julius tallied 16 points (6-12 FG, 3-8 3FG) and seven rebounds while junior guard Jeff Haddock, Jr. shot 4-of- 5 from three-point distance and produced 14 points in 10 minutes off the bench. Junior small forward Sam Toney grabbed eight rebounds on an off-shooting night (five points).
For RCNJ, sophomore guard Rob McWilliams (Blauvelt, N.Y./Tappan Zee) finished with a double-double of 19 points (7-11 FG) and 11 rebounds. Senior guard Kashaun Barnes (Toms River, N.J.) was limited to four points in 16 minutes.
- While Ramapo never trailed, the first half was still a close game, with RCNJ up 18-16 with 9:58 to play.
- Ramapo responded by scoring 14 of the next 19 points to claim an 11-point, 32-21 advantage with 4:07 to go. Lewis scored six during the 6:02 stretch.
- Ramapo led by 13 at halftime, 39-26.
- Ramapo maintained a double-digit lead and held a 48-32 margin with 16:27 left—its largest lead—before NJCU offered a rebuttal in the form of a 16-4 outburst.
- NJCU begin whittling the lead to single digits as Julius hit a three (15:33, 48-35) and Haddock buried back-to-back triples to cut it to 50-41 with 13:47 left.
- After Ramapo scored to momentarily stop the bleeding, NJCU scored the next seven points and cut the deficit to four, 52-48, with 11:12 left.
- NJCU trimmed the deficit to two on five different occasions, the last coming on a tip-in by Banks with 5:01 to go and after a bucket by the hosts, senior point guard Shaquan Worthy netted his only points of the day with a triple that shaved the lead to 64-63 with 4:05 to play.
- But Ramapo answered. A three by McWilliams pushed the lead back to five (68-63) and NJCU never got closer than four (70-66) with 1:13 to go. McWilliams and Lewis iced the game in the final 40 seconds.
- Series: 95th meeting. NJCU leads the all-time series, 68-27.
- Sam Toney moved into 12th place in school history with 1,319 points, passing Hall of Famer Darren Watkins (1988-92, 1318 points). Next up in 11th place in the program's iconic former head coach, a Hall-of-Fame player himself, Charlie Brown in 11th place (1962-65, 3 seasons, 1324 points)
- Denzel Banks scored in double figures for the 13th time in 25 games in his first season playing for NJCU.
- James Julius scored 10+ points for the seventh time this season and the 26th time in his collegiate career.
- Jeff Haddock, injured for most of the season, has been limited to parts of 16 games. He scored in double figures for the 10th time in 28 appearances for NJCU. He has scored in double figures 29 times in 67 career games between NJCU and Rowan (2016-18). It was his first 10+ point effort since November 28 at William Paterson, which was his last start.
- By virtue of the NJAC's regular season championship and No. 1 overall seed, the Knights have a first-round bye and will be idle until the NJAC semifinals on Tuesday, February 19 at 7 p.m. against the winner of Ramapo and William Paterson. It will be the 47th NJAC Tournament game in school history. The Knights are 22-24 all-time in the conference tournament but a stellar 17-11 in 28 all-time home NJAC Tournament games. NJCU is 11-0 at home this season. NJCU has won 12 NJAC championships—its last coming in 2011—the most of any program in conference history.
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