MAPLEWOOD, NJ - Chatham's bid to break its boys basketball losing streak came crashing to the gym floor with 3:26 left in the fourth quarter.
That's when Cougar sophomore guard Cam Rooney fell hard to the floor, banging his "funny bone" and forcing him from the game.
Rooney, who finished with a team-high 16 points, declared himself fine by the time the game was over, but it was too late to help Chatham down the stretch of its fifth straight loss, a 57-51 decision to Columbia.
"That didn't help," Chatham coach Todd Ervin said.
Chatham (11-12) put together a promising fourth quarter in which it scored 20 points in rallying from a 15-point deficit in the third quarter to slice the deficit to three points.
Senior guard Jameson Shi ignited the comeback by draining two straight 3-pointers to start the final period (see video below) and Rooney converted a three-point play in the 9-2 burst by the Cougars.
Columbia (11-12) built its lead back to 51-40 with 3:56 left in the fourth behind Jalen Robinson, who ended with 20 points, six assists and four steals. Chatham fought back into it with an eight-point run, which started just before Rooney's exit when James Platek hit both ends of a one-and-one situation.
Freshman Ryan Leskauskas scored off an in-bound pass from Luke Fekete and senior Jack Arnuk scored inside and hit two free throws, cutting the deficit to 51-48 with 2:34 showing. That's when Chatham could have used the ballhandling, shooting and free-throw accuracy of Rooney to possibly pull the game out.
"We're just not good enough to get away when we make some mistakes," Ervin said. "They ended up coming back and costing us."
Chatham's last gasp was a 3-pointer by Leskauskas (see below), making it 55-51 with 1:31 showing.
Ryan Leskauskas scored all 13 of hits points in the second half for Chatham, including eight points during the third quarter.
Platek and Rooney hit back-to-back 3-pointers in the third period to keep the Cougars in the game (see below).
Chatham plays its final game of the regular season, 4 p.m. Thursday at Westfield.