Willis Sparks Waves' Regular-Season-Ending Win at Santa Clara
Feb. 23, 2012
Caleb Willis scored all 15 of his points in the second half to spark the Pepperdine men's basketball team to a regular-season-ending 63-57 victory at Santa Clara on Thursday night in West Coast Conference play.
Willis (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge HS) scored 13 of his points on a variety of driving lay-ups, short jumpers and tip-ins during a 17-4 run to start the second half. The Waves went from down one at halftime to a 42-30 lead, and they never trailed again.
Pepperdine (10-18, 4-12) won its second straight game and its first league road game in its final attempt, while keeping Santa Clara (8-20, 0-15) winless in league play with one game remaining for the Broncos.
Senior forward Taylor Darby (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills HS) persevered through a rough shooting night to post team highs of 16 points and 11 rebounds, good for his fourth double-double of the season. Freshman forward Ramon Eaton (Sacramento, Calif./Sheldon HS) scored a season-high 10 points, while senior center Corbin Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS) had seven points and 10 rebounds.
"We feel great about it," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "We talked about getting to 10 wins, getting a conference road win, and to build some momentum going into the tournament next week. The key was Caleb. He put us on his shoulders and carried us."
Pepperdine held Santa Clara to 35.6% shooting from the field, including a 5-for-25 effort on three-pointers. The 57 points allowed were the Waves' second-best performance in league play.
The Waves shot 42.6% (52.2% in the second half) and used a 48-33 rebounding advantage to post a 21-10 edge in second-chance points.
Santa Clara led by as many as six points in the first half, though freshman guard Jordan Baker (Tempe, Ariz./Tempe HS) scored on a lay-up just before the halftime buzzer to cut the Broncos' lead to 26-25 at the break.
The second half began with Willis feeding Darby for a dunk, putting the Waves in front for the first time in the game. Then Willis scored 13 points in a span of about five and a half minutes to give Pepperdine a 42-30 lead with 11:23 to play. The Waves took their largest lead of 13 points at 46-33 with 7:13 to play after a lay-up by Darby.
Santa Clara's offense finally came around and the Broncos began chipping away at the lead. It was down to five at 52-47 with 2:05 to play, but Moore sank a three-pointer. It was again a five-point game at 60-55 with 20 seconds left, but Eaton through a long pass downcourt to break the press and feed junior guard Joshua Lowery (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS) for a game-clinching lay-up.
The Waves next play at the WCC Basketball Championships, which are held in Las Vegas at the Orleans Arena. They'll be either the #7 or #8 seed, depending on the result of Saturday's Portland-BYU game. If BYU wins, the Waves are the #7 seed (and they'll face San Diego on Thursday, March 1, at approximately 8:30 p.m.) If Portland wins, Pepperdine is the #8 seed (and the Waves will face Santa Clara again on Wednesday, Feb. 29, at 6 p.m.).