Men’s basketball defeated by one-loss Chatham (From 2-5-22)

By Keegan Raabe

From 2-5-2022

The Waynesburg University men’s basketball team (12-8, 8-5 PAC) hosted the Chatham Cougars (16-1, 11-1) on Saturday, February 5.

Despite a strong showing in the first half, the Yellow Jackets couldn’t carry it through to the second half and fell to the Cougars 61-49. Saturday’s matchup was crucial for the Yellow Jackets with the Cougars being at first place in the conference. 

After a slow start for both teams, Waynesburg pulled away to take a 10-point lead before Chatham’s offense started rolling, narrowing the Yellow Jackets lead to just three going into the half. 

The Yellow Jackets failed to finish within the last nine minutes of the half, giving the Cougars the perfect opportunity to take advantage.

“We did not finish the first half out well. Had some empty offensive possessions in the last four minutes of the half,” head coach Tim Fusina said.

Chatham kept the scoring rolling in the early parts of the second half and didn’t let off the gas. As the second half continued, Waynesburg struggled, shooting 34% from the field and missing all four of their three-point attempts.  

Jansen Knotts continued to add to his stats during his amazing sophomore year, leading the Yellow Jackets with 15 points, three rebounds, and three assists, followed closely by senior Matt Popeck who attributed 12 points, seven rebounds, and one assist in the loss. 

Waynesburg has struggled to put two halves together all season but when they do, their offense can be lethal, led by Popeck. They can play lockdown defense guided by Nijon Kirkman and Bryson Wilt. The Yellow Jackets are a young team as well with only two seniors in Popeck and Zach Ford, along with Kirkman as a graduate student.

The Yellow Jackets still have five more games before they make their playoff run with three of those being against top-five PAC opponents Washington & Jefferson, Geneva, and Westminster. 

“We need to continue our growth and play the right way over the next five games. We have proven that when we play the right way, we are able to and usually beat anyone we play,” Fusina said. “When we do not (play the right way) we tend to struggle. That’s part of being young and inexperienced, but it’s no longer an excuse.”

Waynesburg is back in action on Wednesday, Feb. 9 when they travel up Interstate 79 to take on the number two team in the PAC, the W&J Presidents.