Men's Hoops Has Best Defensive Showing in Nearly 60 Years in 59-36 Win
Taylor Darby had his second double-double of the season and the seventh of his career as he had game highs of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
MALIBU, Calif. - The Pepperdine men's basketball team put together its best defensive showing in nearly 60 years as the Waves clamped down on visiting Montana State and recorded a 59-36 victory on Sunday in Firestone Fieldhouse.
The Waves (6-4) hadn't given up fewer points in a game since a 70-35 win at UC Santa Barbara on Feb. 23, 1952.
Montana State (5-5) came into the contest averaging 80.3 points per game and had a previous season low of 67 points. But the Waves held the Bobcats to 28.3% shooting from the field, and a 1-for-10 performance from beyond the arc.
"I think Montana State is better than what they were tonight, but we played well," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "For them to average 80 points and score 36 is mind-boggling. The main thing we focused on was containing their dribble penetration in the halfcourt. We wanted to prevent them from scoring in transition and make them score over us. We did a good job of moving our feet, staying down on their pump fakes, making them take tough, contested shots. We tried to limit them to one attempt each time down."
Senior forward Taylor Darby (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills HS) had his second double-double of the season and the seventh of his career as he had game highs of 14 points and 11 rebounds. Senior center Corbin Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS) contributed 13 points, six rebounds and three blocked shots.
Junior guard Caleb Willis (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge HS) had seven points and six assists, sophomore guard Nikolas Skouen (Bergen, Norway/Pratt CC) scored nine points off the bench and sophomore forward Hector Harold (Pasadena, Calif./Northfield Mount Hermon School) added eight points in his first career start.
The Waves got off to a slow start offensively, but still went into halftime with a 23-17 lead. They shot 56.0% in the second half and 44.7% for the game.
Willis and Moore opened the second half with three-pointers to give Pepperdine its first double-digit lead at 29-17. Montana State would close within five points at 29-24, but a 10-0 run by the Waves, which included two lay-ups by Darby, put Pepperdine ahead 39-24 with 13 minutes to play.
The Waves still led by 11 with a little more than 10 minutes to go, and then held the Bobcats scoreless for nearly seven minutes. The Waves scored 12 straight points to extend their advantage to 56-33 with four minutes to play.
Pepperdine only allowed Montana State to score three points in the final 10 minutes.
This was Pepperdine's first double-digit victory of the season, and the Waves are assured of going into West Coast Conference play with a winning record for the first time since 2004-05.
"I feel comfortable with where we are right now," Wilson said. "If we can sustain what we're doing defensively, I'm comfortable with that. We'll keep tinkering with our offense and trying to put guys in the best position to score. The players believe in themselves, they've bought into what we're preaching and they're seeing that they can be successful."
Coupled with a 49-40 win at Northern Arizona, the Waves have held opponents to less than 29% shooting from the field in two of the last three games.
Pepperdine's final game before WCC play begins is this Thursday (Dec. 22) when the Waves face Washington State in the Cougar Hardwood Classic at KeyArena in Seattle. Game time is 7 p.m. Fans can listen to Al Epstein's broadcast via WaveCasts and join an interactive live blog/chat at www.pepperdinesports.com.