Coach Tim Fusina had a lot of compliments for how his defense played in Waynesburg’s win over Bethany 68-43. All 18 dressed players got playing time.
The Yellow Jackets (2-3) outscored the Bison (0-5) 38-20 in the second half after holding a 30-23 at halftime. Bethany only shot 25% from the field in the second half and 30% overall in the game. The 43 points that Waynesburg allowed was the lowest point total since they allowed just 42 points against Catholic on Dec. 29, 2015. Waynesburg has now won two games in a row.
“We defend at a high level. We do a great job guarding the ball,” Fusina said. “We do a great job contesting shots, and we rebound.”
Junior Matt Popeck points out a key thing that his coaches preach to them about defense.
“We talked throughout the whole game. Coach was always emphasizing communication on defense,” Popeck said. “Just buying in and playing together, scrapping for the ball and cleaning up possessions on the boards.”
Waynesburg out-rebounded Bethany 46-37. They forced 21 turnovers and collected 14 steals, which are both season highs. Freshmen Jansen Knotts and Bryson Wilt each had 4 steals. Freshman Jake Scheidt chipped in with 3 steals as well.
With Waynesburg holding on to a seven-point advantage at the half, Fusina made sure his team continued to dominate defensively.
“At half-time [we] talked about again keeping the ball in front of us making sure that guys in the gap that are helping where they are supposed to be,” Fusina said. “If we could do that and block out, we put ourselves in a position to win, and we did that.”
Waynesburg had three players score in double figures. Knotts had a game and career high 16 points. Junior Isaiah Alonzo collected 14 points. Popeck added 13 points off the bench.
Fusina likes the progression he’s seen from Knotts and Popeck this season.
“Jansen [Knotts] can do a lot of different things. Jansen can guard different people. He’s great defensively, he gets on the glass on both sides. He had eight offensive rebounds, he’s versatile,” Fusina said. “He’s [Popeck] done a great job. He’s had to guard different people. He’s done a very good job of guarding the ball, he’s done a very good job of handling the ball and helping rebound. He made shots today, he’s 3 of 6 from the field 3 of 4 from three.”
Popeck has now put-up double-digit points in three consecutive games after scoring 13 points today. After not putting up double digit points in the first two games of the season, Popeck is starting to put up his typical numbers he had in his first two seasons, and he knows what he’s doing to contribute to that.
“Just being patient and letting the game come to me. Whenever Coach calls my name, I just come in ready to play,” Popeck said. “I try to play smart; I try to be a good teammate and get my teammates involved.”
Fusina knows what the Yellow Jackets must do to continue racking up wins.
“We need to continue to defend and be patient offensively,” Fusina said.
Waynesburg will look to make it three wins in a row when they welcome the Chatham Cougars to the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse on Wednesday, Feb. 24. Tip-off is at 7:00 p.m.