CHATHAM, NJ - For the first time this season, the Chatham's girls basketball team met their match.
With an opening in the schedule, head coach Joe Gaba picked up Mount St. Dominic, one of the best teams in the state, on Wednesday night.
While the Lady Cougars stuck with the Lady Lions for most of the game, Mount St. Dominic's inside strength and some miscues did in Chatham by the fourth quarter of the home game.
Chatham would drop its first game of the season, 52-38, to the Lady Lions. Sporting a 12-1 record, the Lady Cougars take on Dover on Friday at 7 p.m.
Despite the loss, Chatham is expected to be named the number one seed of the upcoming Morris County Tournament when the seedings will be determined on Sunday.
"It puts a lot more pressure on you," said Gaba about his team most likely getting the top seed. Chatham was the number two seed last season, behind only Morris Catholic. Both teams met for the 2011 county final as the Cougars lost 32-30. Chatham will be looking to win its first county girls basketball title this season.
On Wednesday night, Cougars Amanda Bertsen led the way offensively with 19 points including a pair of threes while Mount St. Dominic had three players in double figures led by Camille McPherson's 18.
Gaba said it was a combination of not getting extra chances on the offensive side and not finishing off their plays.
"Both of their kids are very good post-up players," said Gaba about Mount St. Dominic's McPherson and Mallora Shickora. "We had a couple of mistakes with our half-court offense."
With their inside strength, Mount St. Dominic put the clamps on Chatham's inside offense from Grace Conroy and Lauren Winschuh who combined for 10 points, seven from Winschuh.
Overall, Chatham was able to beat the Lady Lions full-court press, but did turn over the ball on crucial trips down the court.
Against Mount St. Dominic, the Lady Cougars were playing catch-up for almost the entire night. Chatham actually only had one lead in the game, which came about four minutes in. Conroy fed Winschuh to hand the Lady Cougars a 4-3 lead.
But after that Mount St. Dominic would score eight unanswered points and Chatham would be playing catch-up all night long.
In the first half the Lady Cougars would get within one, 20-19 after a Winschuh bucket, but that was it in the first half.
The closest that Chatham came in the second half was when Berntsen hit a three-point bucket to slice the Mount St. Dominic lead to 37-31.
Each time that Chatham would creep within a couple of possessions from Mount St. Dominic, the Lions would come back with a basket or two.
After the Lady Cougars cut the Mount St. Dominic lead to 37-31 late in the third quarter, the Lady Lions would score the next eight points and Chatham could not retaliate.