WAYNESBURG, PA– Senior Day festivities were the spark the Jackets needed to start off hot, building an early 7-0 run. With the help of senior guard, Frank Bozicevic, Waynesburg [4-19, 4-10] jumped out to an early, and commanding, 24-6 lead. But it wouldn’t last, and St. Vincent [12-11, 7-7] ended up beating the Jackets, 72-60.
St. Vincent crawled back with a 10-0 run, while switching to a full court press. The Jackets succumbed to the pressure and turned the ball over to the Bearcats – something the Yellow Jackets have witnessed many times before. Waynesburg finished the afternoon with 20 giveaways.
“It’s been a theme and it’s unfortunate,” said coach Tim Fusina. “But it’s a theme and it got us again.”
Another theme for Waynesburg was the ability to take junior forward, Shemar Bennett, out of the game. In the first meeting, Bennett was held to six points and fouled out in overtime. It was a similar story today.
Bennett stayed on the court for just 11 minutes. After only landing two points, Bennett fouled out in a third consecutive game. However, Bennett was not a deciding factor in the loss.
“We turned it over and couldn’t recognize if they were man or zone,” Fusina said. “We rushed shots and had shots at the end of the shot clock that were contested. And we didn’t get back in transition where they are touching the paint. Those are the things that led to the collapse.”
Waynesburg started the second half down by five, but quickly rallied, scoring the next six points. Seniors Brennan Smith and Sam Heeter drilled back-to-back three pointers. Yet, that would be Waynesburg’s last lead of the game.
St. Vincent had lots of help from the bench. 29 points came from nonstarters. Junior guard Cletus Helton tallied 12 points in the first half. Half of those came from the charity stripe. Additionally, the Bearcats looked towards one of their starters who had a turnaround second half.
Another junior guard, Walter Bonds, knocked down 12 points in the last 20 minutes. In addition to his four first half points, he tied Helton for the team high of 16.
Notable players for the Jackets included Smith, who ended the night with 12 points and 10 rebounds for his first double double of the season. Isaiah Alonzo, who was a rebound shy of his own double double, finished with 12 points.
After falling to Saint Vincent,Waynesburg is 4-10 in the Presidents’ Athletic Conference. The Jackets have two games remaining, with teams within one win of another.
This Wednesday, Waynesburg travels to Thiel. The Tomcats are 5-9 and lost to the Jackets earlier in the season. Then, the Jackets will round out their season at home against Bethany who is one game below them in the conference, albeit with a win over Waynesburg.
The Jackets currently sits in the eighth and final playoff spot. These next two games will be do or die for Waynesburg. Fusina understands the position they are in while on the road against Thiel.
“It’s a tough environment to be in. They play very well at home,” Fusina said. “It’s going to be tough for us but if we can take care of the ball and block out and limit their shots in the paint, then we will be okay.”