Waynesburg put themselves in a difficult spot by being down 21 points at halftime to the defending Presidents’ Athletic Conference Champions. The Jackets fought back, starting the second half on a 11-0 run before trimming the Cougars lead to four points three separate times.
Ultimately, however, Waynesburg [6-20] fell short in the first round of the PAC playoffs, and coach Tim Fusina’s first season has come to an end. Chatham [17-9] held on for a 72-64 win, and will play Geneva.
“We didn’t play very hard in the first half,” Fusina said. “They made shots in the first half. We couldn’t really have an answer for them. Credit to our guys to cut it to four [points]. The hole we dug ourselves in the first half is what hurt us.”
Senior Cam Auld, who’s college basketball career is now over, said the coaching staff never lost its faith.
“The coaches talk at halftime was, ‘we’re in control of our own destiny’ and that’s how we played the second half,” Auld said. “We gave ourselves a shot and that’s what we talked about in the locker room. We did just that, so I’m proud of the guys.”
Chatham was hot from three point range in the first half shooting 52%. Freshman Elijah Sutton was perfect from beyond the arc, scoring 12 of his 14 points from three. Malik Potter shot 50% from three and finished with a team-high 24 points.
For Waynesburg, senior Brennan Smith led both teams tallied 26 points to end his college career. Sophomore Isaiah Alonzo added 19 points, and senior Frank Bozicevic chipped in with 12 points in his final game.
Fusina noticed the adjustments that almost led to a major comeback.
“We played harder, we went to the glass, we blocked out,” Fusina said. “We made some shots, we committed to getting the ball inside.”
With 4:21 left in the game, Smith made a jumper that cut the Cougar lead back to four. Potter then hit a three on Chatham’s next possession to put to Cougars back up by seven. Then, Potter made a jumper and another three-pointer to give Chatham a 10-point lead with 1:21 remaining to ice the game.
Auld felt the near-comeback defined how Waynesburg has been all season.
“I think that’s kind of how we were all year. We’ve been in games where we’ve been down,” Auld said. “That’s the team we were. The guys on the bench who didn’t really play that much were always in tune with the game.”
Fusina credits the team’s toughness.
“We have a tough group of kids,” Fusina said. “They’re tough minded, they care about each other, they care about the program, they care about winning.”