The final score of Wednesday’s Presidents’ Athletic Conference opener suggests that Grove City College handled the Waynesburg University women’s basketball team without much of a sweat.
For more than a half, however, the Yellow Jackets [1-5, 0-1] hung tight with the now 7-0 Wolverines.
Waynesburg went into the locker room down, 41-36. With 8:53 to play in the third quarter, the game was tied at 43. But that, Grove City went on a 19-2 run, putting what turned out to be a 77-56 win out of reach.
“Really, two things killed us,” Waynesburg coach Sam Jones said. “We had too many bad turnovers, then we just got destroyed on the boards. They had too many offensive rebounds.”
Waynesburg struggled with Grove City’s full court press, turning the ball over 26 times. The Jackets were also outmuscled on the glass, losing the rebounding battle, 48-33. Of Grove City’s 48 rebounds, 29 came on the offensive end.
Leading the way for Grove City was Kate Balcom, who scored a game high 25 points and added seven rebounds.
“She has this great hop step move,” Jones said, “which is pretty hard to guard. When she’s hitting a jump shot at the end of that hop step, it’s a tough night [for the opponent]. She’s a great player, and she showed it tonight for sure.”
Jess Bowen and Sedona Campbell also scored in double figures, each contributing 11 points.
Jones did see some positives from the loss, however, saying the team’s overall work ethic was stronger than it was in last Tuesday’s ugly 84-56 loss to Otterbein at the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse.
“I thought the effort and attention to detail on defense was better,” Jones said. “I think our ball movement on offense was better.”
Waynesburg also had a couple of strong individual performances from its post players. Freshman Zoie Smith and sophomore Brooke Fuller each had strong nights, with Fuller putting up 16 points and Smith contributing 13 with eight rebounds.
“Brooke is just a solid post player,” he said. “She’s improved so much from last year, and continues to improve. So I was really pleased with both of them.”
Aside from Fuller and Smith, however, it wasn’t a good night offensively. No one else scored in double figures, and this was apparent during the third quarter, when Waynesburg went nearly seven minutes without scoring.
“We just couldn’t hit a shot,” Jones said. “We went almost seven minutes without a basket, and you just can’t do that against a really good team like Grove City.”
Although just a sophomore, Fuller has quickly developed into arguably Waynesburg’s best player. Through six games, the Allison Park, Pennsylvania native averages 14.3 points a game, which hovers around the top 10 in the PAC.
Fuller credited her success to one-on-one work with first-year assistant Matt Pioch, who coaches Waynesburg’s forwards. She also said that gaining strength over the summer has helped her tremendously.
“I still need to work on my rebounding, but I’ve gotten a lot stronger,” Fuller said. “That builds confidence.”
Waynesburg’s next game will be a noon tipoff Saturday at Chatham, who suffered its first loss of the season against Grove City.
Although Jones was disappointed with the result, he felt that the team show signs of life Wednesday, which wasn’t the case a week ago.
“While I’m certainly disappointed with the outcome and there’s a lot to work on, there were a lot of good things that we can build on and move forward.”