Waves Battle #10 Gonzaga But Fall 78-62 in WCC Opener

Jordan Baker

Jan. 3, 2013

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MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's basketball team put together a strong effort against #10 Gonzaga, including holding the Bulldogs to their worst shooting night of the season, but the visitors pulled away down the stretch and earned a 78-62 win to open West Coast Conference play on Thursday night.

Gonzaga (14-1, 1-0) began the week ranked #2 in the nation in field-goal percentage, but was held to just 43.4% by the Waves. Pepperdine (8-6, 0-1) shot better than its opponent for the 12th straight game, but could only do a touch better at 43.6%.

The Waves led by as many as eight points in the first half and also went up 36-35 with 14 minutes to play, but the Bulldogs made their first 24 free throw attempts of the second half and eventually put Pepperdine away.

"The biggest difference was that they have experienced guys that know how to win," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "We're still trying to learn how to win with less experienced guys. They have guys that have been in these situations. I'm proud of our guys and how well we defended. We were physical, we were tough, we were aggressive, and that's how we have to play. Our guys are growing and we're going to learn from this game."

Senior guard Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS) had a team-high 16 points while sophomore guard Jordan Baker (Tempe, Ariz./Tempe HS) scored 15. Freshman forward Stacy Davis (Laveen, Ariz./Fairfax HS) had eight points and eight rebounds and senior guard Caleb Willis (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge HS) contributed six points, eight rebounds and seven assists.

The Waves played inspired basketball from the start, jumping out to leads of 4-0, 10-4 and 14-6 (their biggest of the game). Later on Gonzaga would break a 21-21 tie with a 7-2 run, and the Bulldogs went into halftime with a 30-26 lead.

The start of the second half was also good for Pepperdine, as the Waves scored the first four points again, then later took a 36-35 lead after baskets by Willis and Davis. But the Bulldogs, who went almost five minutes without a field goal, immediately went on an 8-0 run to go ahead 43-36. Gonzaga would take its first double-digit lead at 57-47 with 7:20 to go.

Pepperdine also had a 36-30 edge in rebounding. Gonzaga finished 25-for-29 from the free throw line (86.2%) and was 24-for-25 in the second half. The Waves were hurt by turnovers, particularly in the first half, and the Bulldogs finished with a 21-10 edge in points off turnovers.

Gonzaga got 18 points from Elias Harris and 16 from Kelly Olynyk.

Pepperdine next hosts Portland on Saturday (Jan. 5) at 7 p.m. The game can be viewed on www.pepperdinesports.com via WaveCasts (the site will also host an interactive live game blog/chat) or at wccsports.com via the WCC Digital network.



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