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College Basketball:
Rutgers-Camden Week In Review

Monday, February 2, 2004

By Mike Ballard
RutgersCamden Sports Correspondent

Gene Mergenthal (Sicklerville, NJ/Highland)

Senior guard Gene Mergenthal continued to lead by example last week in a pair of conference road games for the Rutgers-Camden men’s basketball team. Mergenthal collected game-high totals of 22 points, eight assists and three steals as the Raptors snapped a 23-game losing streak against Montclair State with a 77-70 win Jan. 28. Mergenthal added team-high totals of 17 points and four assists in a loss at Ramapo, 104-73, Jan. 31. This is the second Raptor of the Week honor this season for Mergenthal, who earned Co-Raptor honors along with women’s basketball player Karen Carter Dec. 1.


Wed., Jan. 28 Rutgers-Camden 77, Montclair State University 70
Sat., Jan. 31 Ramapo College 104, Rutgers-Camden 73


Wed., Feb. 4 The College of New Jersey 8 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 5 at Philadelphia Biblical University 8 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 7 at New Jersey City University 8 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 11 at William Paterson University 6 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 13 Keystone College 8 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 18 Montclair State University 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 21 at The College of New Jersey 3 p.m.

The Rutgers-Camden men’s basketball team posted their second consecutive win in the New Jersey Athletic Conference, toppling Montclair State, 77-70, Jan. 28 before their winning streak was snapped in a 104-73 setback at Ramapo Jan. 31.

Senior guard Gene Mergenthal (Sicklerville, NJ/Highland) scored a game-high 22 points to spark Rutgers-Camden over Montclair State, 77-70, in Upper Montclair, snapping the Red Hawks’ 23-game winning streak in the rivalry.

Rutgers-Camden hadn’t defeated Montclair State since Dec. 6, 1991, when it posted a 67-64 victory in Camden.


The win also was the second straight NJAC triumph for the Raptors, who stunned the nation’s 23rd-ranked team, Kean University, 66-65, Jan. 24. The last time the Raptors posted two straight NJAC wins was Feb. 6 and 9, 2002 when they defeated William Paterson (69-68) and New Jersey City (103-99 in overtime), respectively, in a pair of home games.

Junior guard Tyrone Rucker (Pennsauken, NJ/Pennsauken) added 18 points for the Raptors, while freshman guard/forward Dane Nicholson (Pleasantville, NJ/Holy Spirit) notched 14 points and tied his career high of 10 rebounds, set against Kean Jan. 24.

Junior forward Mike Hopson (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) collected 10 points as the Scarlet Raptors placed four players in double figures.

Rutgers-Camden, which held a 35-31 halftime lead, used a 10-0 run late in the second half to secure its victory. It was the second big run in as many games for the Raptors, who overcame a 13-point second-half deficit against Kean with a 17-0 run.

For Montclair State, sophomore forward Gian Paul Gonzalez collected 18 points and a game-high 13 rebounds. Teammate Michael Davis, a junior forward/center, had 17 points and 12 rebounds.

Rutgers-Camden led most of the way, but Montclair State’s 15-4 run allowed the Red Hawks to tie the game at 64-64 with 4:10 remaining. Nicholson answered that run by hitting four straight free throws, and junior center/forward Jarett Mutts (Millville, NJ/Vineland) added a layup to give the Raptors a 70-64 lead.

Mergenthal added five foul shots and Hopson collected two down the stretch.

Mergenthal finished with game-high totals of eight assists – one shy of his career high – and three steals, in addition to his 22 points and seven rebounds.

The Raptors’ two-game winning streak was snapped Jan. 31 as senior forward Jared Milligan collected a game-high 31 points, aided by five three-pointers, to power Ramapo over Rutgers-Camden, 104-73, in another NJAC road game.

Milligan shot 11-for-16 from the floor, including 5-for-9 from three-point range, as the Roadrunners posted their fifth straight win. It was their fourth straight victory over Rutgers-Camden, which hasn’t defeated Ramapo since Dec. 1, 2001 (63-58 in Camden).

Milligan paced three players in double figures for Ramapo, which took a 56-41 halftime lead and placed 12 players in the scoring column. Junior guard Amin Wright notched 17 points for Ramapo, while junior forward/center Eliazar Velez added 12 points and nine rebounds.

Senior center Greg McBain had a game-high 10 rebounds as Ramapo dominated the boards, 55-32.

The Roadrunners took an 8-0 lead and led by as many as 25 in the first half and 34 in the second half. Ramapo shot 50.6 percent for the game (39-for-77), while Rutgers-Camden shot 38.2 percent (26-for-68).

For the Scarlet Raptors, Mergenthal had 17 points and tied Wright with a game-high four assists. Nicholson and Rucker each added 14 points, while junior guard Sean Smith (Mt. Holly, NJ/Burlington Township) collected 12 points.

Hopson tallied nine points and a team-high nine rebounds.


Wed., Jan. 28 Montclair State University 83, Rutgers-Camden 73
Sat., Jan. 31 Ramapo College 95, Rutgers-Camden 75


Wed., Feb. 4 The College of New Jersey 6 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 7 at New Jersey City University 6 p.m.
Wed., Feb. 11 at William Paterson University 8 p.m.
Fri., Feb. 13 Keystone College 6 p.m.
Thurs., Feb. 19 Montclair State University 7 p.m.
Sat., Feb. 21 at The College of New Jersey 1 p.m.


Senior guard Erin James (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) hit a milestone, but the Rutgers-Camden women’s basketball team hit a tough stretch in a pair of NJAC road games during the week. The Raptors lost at Montclair State, 83-73, Jan. 28 and suffered a 95-75 setback at Ramapo Jan. 31.

James collected a game-high nine assists and became the only player in the Rutgers-Camden women’s basketball history to post a pair of 100-assist seasons, but Ramapo College sophomore guard Vanessa Vargas exploded for 36 points to lead the Roadrunners over the Lady Raptors.

It was Ramapo’s first win over Rutgers-Camden since Dec. 1, 2001 (69-60 in Camden), snapping a three-game losing streak against the Lady Raptors.

James, who entered the contest with 92 assists, raised her season mark to 101 with nine assists, one shy of her career high set against Trinity College (D.C.) on Nov. 23, 2003. Her 101 assists for the year also passed her high of 100, accomplished last season.

Despite that accomplishment, the Raptors were no match for the phenomenal shooting performance of Vargas, who scored a career-high 36 points aided by an amazing 10-for-13 game from three-point range. That performance helped Ramapo shoot 16-for-26 from three-point range as a team (61.5 percent), as opposed to the Lady Raptors’ 4-for-19 (21.1 percent) shooting from long distance.

Vargas went 12-for-17 overall from the floor and hit both of her free throws. She added nine rebounds and a game-high five steals.

Vargas led a parade of five Roadrunners in double figures. Senior guard Stephanie Pillari collected 18 points and team-high totals of 10 rebounds and six assists. Senior guard Katie Arcuri collected 14 points, junior guard Janine Cappadona notched 12 points and sophomore guard Kelly Bartz added 10 points for Ramapo.

The Roadrunners raced to a 48-29 halftime lead en route to their second straight win.

The Rutgers-Camden offense was sparked by sophomore forward Megan Rulon (Sewell, NJ/Clearview Regional), who had 19 points and a game-high 12 rebounds to record her 14th double-double of the season.

Freshman guard Kelly Stafford (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) collected 12 points, while junior center Crystal Lucas (West Deptford, NJ/West Deptford) added 11 points and six rebounds. Sophomore guard Lisa Geiger (Gloucester, NJ/Gloucester) notched 10 points to tie her career high, set against Lincoln University Jan. 11, 2004.

Earlier in the week, freshman center Stephanie Machin collected a double-double with 17 points and 12 rebounds and Montclair State overcame a one-point halftime deficit to defeat Rutgers-Camden, 83-73, in a conference Blue Division game Jan. 28 in Upper Montclair.

The Red Hawks, who trailed 39-38 at the half, outscored the Lady Raptors, 45-34, in the second half. It was the fourth straight win for Montclair State and the first for interim head coach Brian Sentowski, who took over the job earlier in the day.

It was the Raptors’ first loss to Montclair State since a 66-48 road loss Jan. 22, , snapping a string of six straight Rutgers-Camden wins in the series.

Machin scored 14 points and added seven rebounds in the second half as the Red Hawks rallied for their victory. Montclair State took the lead for good at 52-51 on a layup by sophomore center Amanda Mullaney with 12:57 left in the game. Mullaney’s go-ahead basket was part of a 12-2 Montclair State run, which saw the Red Hawks jump from a 51-46 deficit to a 58-53 lead.

Machin was one of five Red Hawks to hit for double figures. Junior guard Kristen Potenzone had 12 points, while senior guards Dyette Dillard and Pam Barone each added 11. Mullaney notched 10 points in addition to her game-high 14 rebounds. She also tied the Lady Raptors’ Rulon with a game-high four blocked shots.

James had a game﷓high 21 points and a team-high six assists for Rutgers﷓Camden, while Rulon and sophomore guard Carmen Zimmitt (Woodstown, NJ/Woodstown) each added 11. Rulon and Geiger paced Rutgers-Camden with eight rebounds apiece. That total allowed Geiger to tie her career high, accomplished three other times this season, most recently against Cabrini (Jan. 8).

Zimmitt added seven rebounds to tie her career high set against Ithaca (Dec. 30, 2003).

Rulon was held under 10 rebounds for the first time since Dec. 29, snapping her streak of nine straight double-doubles.

©2004 South Jersey Sports Online Inc.