Waynesburg men’s basketball falls short of PAC upset against Westminster Spartans

January 12 was a day that did not lack excitement the entire day at the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse. 

Not only did Waynesburg wrestling get yet another PAC Championship from junior Heavyweight Rocky McGeary, as well as women’s basketball coming down to a buzzer-beater three-pointer from Westminster junior guard Camden Hergenrother, but men’s basketball followed suit with just as an exciting performance from all involved on both sides. 

Despite such an exciting performance, however, Waynesburg (12-10, 8-7 PAC) narrowly fell to Westminster (14-8, 11-5) in the late-night contest 57-54 to drop them to fifth in the PAC. It creates the possibility of starting off with a road game to open up the tournament, a more likely possibility as the regular season begins to close. 

Despite the end result not falling in their favor, that is not to say that there was a lack of effort or impressive showings from the Waynesburg roster.

Jansen Knotts was able to lead both teams in scoring on the night with 17 points, and Matt Popeck was just one behind him while also being able to notch two three-pointers, and five rebounds while being spotless from the free-throw line, swishing all six of his attempts.

Head coach Tim Fusina was not shy on heaping praise to Matt Popeck as the “team leader.” 

“He’s our best scorer. He does a lot of things for our guys,” Fusina said. He was quick to also mention how Popeck, “leads by example” but stated how “he will be vocal when he has to.” 

It is easy to see why there is such high acclaim for the fifth-year senior, as Popeck has notched numerous awards this season, which include, but are not limited to, several PAC Athlete of the Week titles, leading the team in scoring this year, and arguably the most memorable notching 1,000 career points as a Yellow Jacket.

After this loss to Westminster, Waynesburg falls to 12-10 on the season with only three regular-season games left, and although reaching one of the top three seeds are not in their future, they still have a chance to move up to the fourth seed in the conference currently being held by Geneva College.

Before they get a chance against Geneva in the season finale on Feb. 19, Waynesburg will have to take care of business at home when Thiel and Bethany make their way to the Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse on Feb. 14 and Feb. 16, respectively, in what will be nothing less than a narrow finish to who will get the last home game to start off the PAC tournament.