CHATHAM, NJ - The message was simple from Chatham coach Todd Ervin heading into the fourth quarter: "If you want to win this game you have to defend. And don't be afraid to play your game on offense. Play with confidence."
Those words must have rang true for the Cougars, who entered the fourth quarter with a three-point deficit and totally dominated the final eight minutes for a 65-44 victory over Hackettstown on Monday.
Hackettstown led, 39-36, at the end of the third before Ervin gathered the team and tried to settled them down.
"I was pretty simplistic," Ervin said. "It wasn't what I said. It was about being calm and letting them know we had a whole fourth quarter to play. I just wanted them to know that it wasn't over and we could play better. Let them know, reassure them, that we were in good shape."
Every player on the floor in the fourth quarter seemed to take the words from the coach to heart. Chatham (7-2) scored the first 20 points of the period. Hackettstown didn't score until there was 2:32 left to play and were outscored by the Cougars, 29-5.
Senior guard Robert Raiola hit the two biggest shots of the run in the fourth, sinking two 3-pointers for his only points of the game.
Robert Raiola talks about his 3-pointers in video below
"That was huge, Robert gave us a lot of momentum there," senior guard Luke Conrad said. "He just did a great job, stepped up with confidence and let it fly. I'm always telling him that he's a really good shooter. I tell him to keep shooting and stay with it and that's what he did tonight."
Colin McKenna, who finished with 12 points started the streak in the fourth quarter with two free throws. Conrad sank a foul shot before Raiola drained his first 3-pointer. McKenna then scored inside off a pass from Conrad.
At the other end, Conrad pulled down a defensive board and fed the ball to Raiola, who swished in his second 3-pointer. Graham Delaney's steal preceded a drive to the basket for two by Conrad. Delaney then made another steal and dashed the length of the floor for a layup that made it 51-39. Hackettstown (4-3) had a chance to interrupt the run, but missed two foul shots.
McKenna followed with a basket inside from Conrad. Delaney then hit a 3-pointer to make it 20 straight points for the Cougars.
Conrad ended with a game-high 21 points and Delaney had 18. James Britt paced Hackettstown with 17 points.
Colin McKenna scores inside for Chatham in video below