WAYNESBURG – During the second half of Waynesburg University’s women’s basketball game Wednesday night against Washington & Jefferson, a water pipe burst, flooding a stairwell that goes from the court at Rudy Marisa Fieldhouse to the Yellow Jackets’ locker room.
A few minutes later, W&J’s NCAA tournament bubble burst.
Waynesburg overcame a 15-point first-half deficit and rallied for a stunning 77-67 victory in a Presidents’ Athletic Conference game.
It was a loss that could prove devastating to W&J’s postseason hopes come late February. The Presidents fell to 2-2 in the PAC and 7-4 overall.
“It’s not good,” W&J coach Jina DeRubbo admitted.
The Presidents, however, were very good in the game’s first 10 minutes, which made the finish even more frustrating. They held Waynesburg (3-1, 5-6) to four points over the first eight minutes and used a patient offense to forge a 19-4 lead. That’s around the time that W&J’s Chelsea Apke (game-high 23 points) and Beka Bellhy each drew their second fouls and went to the bench. With them went W&J’s offense as Waynesburg was then able to quicken the game’s tempo and seize the momentum.
Waynesburg pulled to within 35-32 at halftime, and scored the first five points of the second half on a three-pointer by Hayden Giuliani and Rebecca Kerr’s fast-break layup.
The Yellow Jackets took the lead for good at 49-46 on a three-pointer by Lauren Blair, then used an 11-2 run to open a 62-52 advantage.
“They just played harder than we did,” DeRubbo said. “We were flat-out outplayed in every facet. … Other than the first six or seven minutes we didn’t move the ball. … We didn’t play smart, together or hard.”
W&J pulled to within 64-60, but baskets by Blair and freshman Courtney Sargent, and another three-pointer by Giuliani, pushed the Jackets’ advantage to 71-62 and W&J never made another surge.
“We responded well to everything,” Waynesburg coach Sam Jones said. “We just maintained our poise, and once we got off having only four points for a long time in the first half we started playing well.”
Waynesburg won despite Elaine Hasek, the Yellow Jackets’ leading scorer and lone senior, being held to eight points. Giuliani and Blair each had 15 points and Heather Davis came off the bench to score 10.
“We play 11 kids and they all play a decent amount of minutes,” Jones said. “We noticed that W&J’s starters all play at least 27 minutes, so we felt that if we could keep the tempo fast that it would pay off at the end.”
Valarie Dunlap scored 12 points for W&J and Bellhy had 11.
California 85, Mansfield 56: Emma Mahady led five scorers in double digits with 19 points as California overwhelmed winless Mansfield, 85-56, in a PSAC crossover game.
Kaitlyn Frantz (18), Elena Antonenko (13), Shaine Clark (11) and Ashley Hines (10) were also in double digits for the Vulcans (8-5).
Clark also had a team-high nine rebounds.
Jena Matter had a game-high 21 points for Mansfield (0-14).
California 86, Mansfield 74: Jake Jacubec led a balanced scoring attack with 19 point as California held off Mansfield, 86-74, in a men’s PSAC crossover game.
Tynell Fortune added 14 points, Arman Marks 13, Drew Cook 12 and Alonzo Murphy 10 for the Vulcans (6-8). Fortune also had five assists.
Charles Pemberton scord 23 points to lead Mansfield (2-12).