Monday night’s game against Penn State Behrend was the closest the Waynesburg University men’s basketball team has come to getting a win in the Tim Fusina era.
Unfortunately, the Yellow Jackets [0-12] are still searching for that first victory, as a gritty effort ended in a 62-57 loss.
It was the first time this season the Jackets have come within single digits of an opponent, and a solid defensive performance was the key. Unfortunately, the offense wasn’t effective enough to bring home the desired result.
“We defended really well,” Fusina said. “They executed a defensive gameplan, which put us in position with a one-posession game with a minute left. We missed a couple shots at the rim, we missed a couple shots on the perimeter that were in rhythm and open, and you can’t do anything about that. You just have to believe that they’ll fall next time.”
For the first eight minutes, the game looked like it would mirror Waynesburg’s previous two losses, which were by a combined 76 points to Muskingum and Division II Malone.
Penn State Behrend [7-3] got out to a 17-7 lead. The Jackets fought back, however, with seven unanswered points. The game remained tight for the rest of the half, and both teams went to break with PSU Behrend ahead, 30-28.
Kenny Foukon led the way for the Lions with 13 points, nine of which came from beyond-the-arc. He finished with a game-high 21.
For Waynesburg, Brennan Smith and Frank Bozicevic were the only two to crack double figures, each scoring 13.
In the second half, Waynesburg hung tough, but never managed to grab the lead, and PSU Behrend hung on for the win.
Despite the loss, Fusina felt the team put out an encouraging performance to end non-conference play.
“I thought our level of commitment defensively and the level of commitment to our defensive game plan and what we wanted to take away from our opponent were outstanding, and a great step forward,” Fusina said.
The 62 points were the fewest Waynesburg has allowed since Nov. 2017. With efforts like these, Fusina said, defense will be the key going forward into the 2020s.
“Staying the course defensively [is important],” he said. “Continuing to work for shots. Continuing to do the little things that we did last night, following a defensive game plan. That will help us more than anything.”
Waynesburg is back in PAC play Saturday in Beaver Falls against Ethan Moose and Geneva. Tipoff is at 3 p.m.
“If we can stay the course defensively and work to make shots, that means cutting hard and screening hard, then we’ll start to win some games,” Fusina said. “I’m confident in that.”