CHATHAM, NJ - It was just a regular-season game, but it could have implications for the Morris County Tournament action set for this weekend.
Randolph will be riding high after its 58-43 victory over Chatham on Thursday night, while the Cougars will be looking to revive their offense in respective MCT first-round games on Saturday.
Randolph (10-9), the No. 12 seed, has to feel good after Barry Lynch scored a game-high 20 points in knocking off No. 7 seed Chatham (10-6). Randolph travels to meet No. 5 Hanover Park in its first-round game while Chatham is at home to No. 10 Montville on Saturday at 7 p.m.
"I told the kids that Montville is just as good as Randolph is and they could come in here and beat us just as easily," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said.
This was the first game Chatham really missed senior guard Luke Conrad, who is sidelined with a concussion and won't be available against Montville. On Tuesday, Chatham managed to rally from a 15-point deficit in the first half, but couldn't dig out of a 24-17 halftime deficit against Randolph.
"That goes without saying," said Ervin of the absence of Conrad. "He's one of the best players in the county."
Barry sank a jumper and drove to the basket for two points, sparking an 11-0 run at the start of the second half that boosted the Rams' lead to 35-17. Chatham did not score in the third until Graham Delaney (16 points) converted a three-point play with 3:57 showing the period.
"Our defense wasn't great, but offensively we were just horrendous," Erwin said. "We haven't shot the ball great this year. Like our first half against Delbarton. We struggle to score points at times and we got behind and it just made it worse and worse."
Chatham had beaten the Rams, 45-34, in Randolph on Jan. 9.
"We defended. and we handled their press," Randolph coach Matt Tighe said. "The press is what hurt us last time. Last time we struggled and they kept coming and coming and coming. This time we made a slight adjustment."
Chatham tried to climb back in it in the fourth as Colin McKenna (13 points) came up with a three-point play and then scored inside. Delaney turned a steal into a layup and then hit a 3-pointer to cut the deficit to 47-36 with 4:42 left.
But Lynch was too much to handle in this one. Lynch sank two foul shots, hit a pull-up jumper and then drained a 3-pointer to seal it. Lynch's 3-pointer, his fourth of the game, made it 58-39 with 1:06 to go.
"I think we got a little lucky," Lynch said. "We were at their place and they weren't making a lot of shots and Conrad didn't play. Chatham beat us pretty good at our place. We wanted to come out and show some energy.