CHATHAM, NJ - No one expected Chatham to match its hot-shooting game of the night before, but the New Providence boys basketball team had something to do with the 37-point swing in points scored by the Cougars.
It wasn't just the shots Chatham didn't make on Wednesday night, it was the shots it never took in the third quarter of its 54-44 loss to New Providence in the second round of the Cougar Classic.
Less than 24 hours after posting an 87-40 win over Mount Olive, the Cougars had trouble matching the intensity of the New Providence defense, which forced a number of turnovers in the third quarter when the Pioneers put together a 15-3 run that handed them a 39-28 lead.
"We just turned the ball over and made bad decisions," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said. "They played really good and we did not play good, basically that's what it came down to. I knew we were going to miss some shots, that's normal, but the turnovers killed us and led to too many easy baskets."
Chatham held a 25-24 edge at halftime. But New Providence (3-1) came out playing a 1-3-1 zone in the third quarter, trapping Chatham's guards and forcing them into turnovers that the Pioneers turned into baskets at the other end.
"I had two straight turnovers in the same spot and I don't think I've ever done that before," Chatham senior guard Jack Rooney said. "A mental lapse on me. That's not going to happen again. We'll bounce back."
Senior guard Mac Bredahl, who finished with 13 points, hit a 3-pointer to give Chatham (4-2) a 28-26 early in the third but New Providence scored the next 13 points to take a 39-28 lead it never relinquished. Sean Dillon dropped in a 3-pointer to key the spree and 6-6 Dylan Bedder capped it with two baskets inside.
"They had a good 1-3-1 going and that kind of rushed us up a little bit, but that's no excuse," Bredahl said. "We just didn't bring it tonight and that happens. You can't win games when you don't have anything going. There are times when we can't really shoot, we need to lock down defensively and we didn't do that tonight. We prepped for (the 1-3-1), but we didn't handle it well. That's up to us as players to figure it out."
Rooney scored 10 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter, but it wasn't enough to erase the Prioneers' advantage. Rooney's rebound and drive to the basket cut the deficit to 45-41 with 3:39 left. Dillon's 3-pointer gave the Pioneers a 48-41 lead with 2:15 to go.
Bedder ended with 15 points and 14 rebounds for New Providence, which got 13 points from Greg Meyers and 12 from Dillon.
New Providence meets Mount Olive at 4 p.m. on Friday and Chatham plays Somerville at 8 p.m., also on Friday in the Cougar Classic finale.