The halftime score of the Waynesburg women’s game left plenty of cause for alarm.
Down by 14 points, the Jackets found themselves in a hole, which was fueled by their defensive breakdowns and shooting struggles.
In the first half alone, Waynesburg shot just 25% from the field and 2-15 from beyond the arc. Head coach Sam Jones knew that it was more of a mental roadblock than a strategy issue.
“The only adjustment[s] we needed to make was change our energy level [and] our attention to detail,” Jones said. “I thought we were pouting a little bit when we made mistakes and stuff like that, instead of grinding and getting better buckets.”
The leading scorers of the first half were sophomore Brooke Fuller and freshman Leighton Croft, sharing six points respectively.
Croft’s intensity, however, was evident, as she was aggressive with drives to the hoop, earning eight chances at the free throw line.
Jones said the Bethany’s outmatched Waynesburg’s in the first half, and the best way to compete with that intensity was to give the Bison a taste of their own medicine.
“We just really had to match Bethany’s intensity and their focus,” Jones said. “They were playing hard, getting the loose balls first.”
That was the difference for the Jackets in the second half.
In the final 20 minutes, the energy was intensified on both ends of the floor, but Waynesburg outscored Bethany, 20-12 in the third quarter. This made the game much closer at 54-48.
Along with key inside shots and free throws, Waynesburg made it a tie ballgame at 66-66 when senior Erin Joyce hit a jumper in the paint with 4:03 left.
After a made free throw by junior Andrea Orlosky to put the Jackets up by one, sophomore Kacey Kastroll hit a dagger three that put Waynesburg up 70-66 with 2:43 left in the game.
“That was huge,” Jones said.
With an array of timeouts and foul shots, Bethany’s Haylie Glass made two free throws with four seconds remaining to keep the Bison within one.
It wasn’t enough.
Senior Alli Delaney dribbled out the remaining seconds to give the Waynesburg its second straight win.
Overall, one stat in particular also pleased Jones; rebounding
“My favorite,” he said. “We won the battle of the boards, so that was important.”
This triumph at Hummel Fieldhouse shifted the Jackets past Bethany in the PAC standings, moving Waynesburg to 3-5 in the conference and Bethany to 2-6.
After taking on two of the bottom teams in the PAC, this upcoming Saturday will be a true test for Waynesburg. The Jackets host the Wolverines of Grove City at the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse. Jones knows what he’s up against.
“We just have to work on beating their press, relaxing, taking care of the basketball,” Jones said, “We have to make sure that we are sharp on the defensive end.”