W&J men find scoring touch; Waynesburg women prevail

January 3, 2013
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Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
Washington and Jefferson players cheer after Jake Swan converted a three-point play, bringing the Presidents’ score to the century mark during their 100-84 win over Waynesburg Wednesday night. Order a Print
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Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter
Washington & Jefferson’s Ben Cecchini tries to pass around Waynesburg’s guard Nate Labishak during the first half of the game Wednesday night. Order a Print
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0103_SPT_wjbball_01 Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter The Presidents' Ben Cecchini passes through Waynesburg's defense Kenny Klase and Jacob Fleegle to a teammate during the first half of the game resulting in two points. W & J won 100 to 84.
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0103_SPT_wjbball_03 Katie Roupe / Observer-Reporter W & J's Connor Deckard goes for two while Waynesburg's Jason Propst guards during the second half of the game.

Working on the assumption that it takes plenty of points to win a basketball game, the Washington & Jefferson men’s team kicked its offense into high gear Wednesday night at Henry Memorial Center.

A healthy group for the first time since November, W&J shot a blistering 61 percent from the field, received their usual big scoring games from the Bellhy brothers – senior guard Zach and sophomore forward Nate – and substantial offensive production from a couple of unlikely sources in a 100-84 run-and-gun victory over Waynesburg in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game.

Waynesburg managed a split of the men’s-women’s doubleheader. The Waynesburg women broke out of a season-long shooting slump and defeated W&J, 71-57, in the nightcap.

“I don’t think we’ve shot 61 percent for a game since … forever,” W&J coach Glenn Gutierrez said. “I can’t remember a game in which we shot that well.”

The Presidents shot 63 percent in their 51-point first half, during which they led by as many as 16 points.

Zach Bellhy had a game-high 27 points – eight above his average – and Nate Bellhy, who missed four of the last six games with an injury, scored 13 points and grabbed 13 rebounds.

But everyone got into the act for W&J, which thrived on the fast-break and against Waynesburg’s man-to-man defense. Mike Resnik came off the bench and scored 17 points in such rapid-fire fashion that it left his coach making comparisons to former Detroit Pistons player Vinnie Johnson, and Brett Rubin-Goldstein also had one of his best games in a W&J uniform with 14 points.

Resnik had eight points in a 16-4 W&J run that opened a 23-12 lead.

“Mike was like the Microwave (Johnson) scoring points bang, bang, bang,” Gutierrez said. “Brett also had a good game. The more contributions we get from different players, the better we’re going to be.

“Getting scoring from a third person is a big key for us because the league is so balanced. That might sound a bit obvious because everybody needs scoring, but in this league, you need more than two guys to score.”

The win snapped a three-game losing streak for W&J (4-9 overall) but more importantly moved the Presidents to 3-2 in the PAC. The Presidents were coming off an 11-day layoff and seemed fresh and sharp. Waynesburg (0-5, 5-8), which played Monday, had its three-game winning streak snapped.

“This is the first time all year that we didn’t guard,” Waynesburg coach Mark Christner said. “We had been doing a nice job defensively. It looked like (W&J) used the break to their advantage and came out swinging offensively.”

After trailing 51-36 at halftime, Waynesburg pulled to within 55-47 early in the second half after point guard Casey Hope made consecutive three-pointers, two of 12 made by the Yellow Jackets in the game. But Resnik and Rubin-Goldstein each had four points during an 11-0 W&J spurt that pushed the lead to 68-49 and sent the Presidents on their way to their first 100-point game in more than three years.

“You have to guard everybody,” Christner said. “You can look at the stats and see the breakdown of who’s taking most of the shots, but this is college basketball. Division III basketball is good basketball, and everybody at this level can make shots. The problem was they were getting and making too many layups against us.”

Hope led Waynesburg with 16 points. Jacob Fleegle had 13 points, B.J. Durham came off the bench to score 12 and E.J. Coleman had 11.

Waynesburg, 71-57

With four starters back from last season’s 20-win team, much was expected from the Waynesburg women this year. Through 11 games, however, the Yellow Jackets were the PAC’s most disappointing team, suffering from poor shooting and close losses in a puzzling 3-8 start.

The Yellow Jackets, however, put together their best game of the season, making eight of their nine three-point field goals in the second half and pulling away for a 14-point road win that Waynesburg coach Sam Jones believes might cure many of his team’s ills.

“This was perfect. We could not have asked for a better medicine,” Jones said. “W&J is a phenomenal team this year. We needed a win over a good team and to play well, which we did for about 38 minutes.”

Waynesburg (3-2, 4-8) fell behind by eight points early but forged a 31-30 lead at halftime. The Yellow Jackets continued the momentum into the second half and led 45-35 with 12 minutes left. W&J (3-2, 8-4) then went on a 13-2 run, sparked by five points from Alexa Burzese, to take a 48-47 lead. Waynesburg, however, answered with a barrage of three-pointers and pulled away over the final seven minutes.

While the win should make the PAC take notice of Waynesburg again, the best news for Jones is that much of his team’s solid play down the stretch was done with none of the returning starters on the floor. Elaine Hasek (14 points) and Brittany Spencer (11 points) – two of the experienced players – led Waynesburg on offense, but Hayden Giuliani came off the bench to score 11 and freshman Gina Rievel had 10.

“We talked about playing fearless,” Jones said. “I felt like we had been playing afraid and tight. W&J is a good team and always well-prepared, so we had to play fearless. We did a good job of that in the last 30 minutes.”

Burzese and Valerie Dunlap each had 14 points for W&J and Emily Abraham had 11.

Chris Dugan has been covering local sports for more than 30 years and has been with the Observer-Reporter since 1986. He was named sports editor in 2006. Before joining the O-R, he was sports editor at the Democrat-Messenger in Waynesburg. He is a former member of the Baseball Writers Association of America. If you have an idea for a story, send him an email at dugan@observer-reporter.com.

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