The Waynesburg University men’s basketball team looked like it was on their way to a third straight win over Chatham University on Wednesday. The Yellow Jackets were up by 18 points at half time, but they ultimately fell to the Cougars in the biggest comeback of Chatham’s history.
Waynesburg started off slow in the early minutes of the first half, trailing Chatham 13-12 about seven minutes into the game. The Yellow Jackets then charged ahead with a 14-0 run and took a 26-13 lead with nine minutes left in the first half. The Jackets offense was led by junior forward Isaiah Alonzo who scored 20 points in the first half.
It appeared Waynesburg would hold on to a 41-20 lead going into the half, but a long buzzer beating shot by Chatham’s freshman guard Simon Boyer from over half the length of the court made it 41-23.
Waynesburg coach Tim Fusina talked about how the second half turned in Chatham’s favor.
“They sped us up because we allowed them to speed us up,” Fusina said. “We saw the ball go in and we felt good in the first half. Then we stopped working for shots and getting good ones.”
Waynesburg opened the second half by taking a 20-point lead, but Chatham’s offense finally broke through the tough Jackets’ defense, and the Cougars were only down 48-40 with just over 13 minutes left in the half.
The Cougars stayed hot and only trailed by two with just under eight minutes left in regulation, trailing 57-55. Chatham finally tied the game 61-61 with just under four minutes to go and then took a 63-61 lead about a minute later, giving the Cougars their first lead since the opening minutes of the game. Chatham then held on to wing in an unlikely fashion for the 66-64 final score.
The Jackets’ loss came despite having 11 more rebounds than the Cougars and shooting over 53 percent in the first half, going 16 for 30 in field goal percentage. Waynesburg’s offense shot just over 16 percent in the second half.
Waynesburg freshman Jansen Knotts earned a double-double in the loss with 11 rebounds and 12 points. Knotts stayed positive after the game, focusing on the first half.
“Everyone on the bench was really energized,” Knotts said. “Everyone on the court was working really well together getting open shots. Once Isaiah [Alonzo] started getting on a roll, it upped everyone’s intensity and effort.”
Alonzo ended the game with 23 points for the Yellow Jackets, but only scored three in the second half. Junior Matt Popeck also had a solid game, putting up 17 points.
Chatham’s offense mimicked senior Malik Potter who was quiet in the first half with zero points, but went off in the second half and scored 12. Other stand out efforts for Chatham included Junior forward Ben Pollock, who ended with a 10 point and 12 rebound double-double, and sophomore Marcos Cintron, who put up 17 points.