Strong Second Half Gives Pepperdine a 76-65 Win vs. Portland
Jan. 18, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. - Lamond Murray Jr. had season highs of 16 points and eight rebounds and the Pepperdine men's basketball team had a big second-half effort to lift the Waves to a 76-65 home victory over Portland on Saturday evening in West Coast Conference play.
The Waves (12-8, 5-3 WCC) beat the Pilots (11-8, 3-4 WCC) for the fourth straight time in Firestone Fieldhouse, and for the fifth time in the last six meetings, after outscoring Portland 46-31 in the second half.
Murray (Los Angeles, Calif./Bishop Montgomery HS), a freshman guard, led a great effort by the Waves' bench, which outscored the Pilots' reserves 32-11. Murray made six of his seven shots.
"After halftime, we needed to raise our energy, and we did that," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "Lamond Murray Jr. got in a rhythm and I felt comfortable keeping him out there, both for his offense and defense. He and Atif (Russell) showed what we expect them to do. We need them to rebound and play defense, and when the opportunity comes, to score. They were a big part of the win."
Sophomore forward Stacy Davis (Laveen, Ariz./Fairfax HS) had 14 points and eight rebounds, junior guard Malcolm Brooks (Brooklyn, N.Y./Cardozo HS/Lamar CC) scored 13 points and freshman guard Jeremy Major (Pasadena, Calif./Maranatha HS) added 11 points (all in the second half).
Pepperdine never led in the first half. The Pilots went up by as many as eight points before going into the break with a 34-30 lead.
The Waves began the second half on a 9-1 run to take a lead that they wouldn't relinquish. A three-point play by Davis put Pepperdine ahead for the first time at 37-35 with 17:07 to play. The lead grew to 47-40 with 13:15 left after a jumper by Davis, a three-pointer by Brooks and a free throw by Murray.
Pepperdine's lead became double-digits when sophomore forward Atif Russell (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes HS) nailed a jump shot from the top of the circle, making it 54-44 with 10:27 to play. The Pilots got no closer than five points the rest of the way.
After shooting just 37.5% (12-for-32) in the first half, the Waves were at 65.0% (13-for-20) in the second half for a total of 48.1%. The Pilots shot 11-for-27 (40.7%) in both halves. Pepperdine also fared well at the free throw line, going 23-for-30 (76.7%). The Waves had a 40-27 edge in rebounding.
In addition to Murray, the Waves got other strong efforts off the bench from the likes of Russell, who had six points, three rebounds and two steals; freshman forward David Jesperson (Merrill, Wis./Merrill HS), who didn't score but played a strong 22 minutes of post defense; and senior guard Nikolas Skouen (Bergen, Norway/Pratt CC), who had five points and two rebounds in just four minutes of a key stretch in the second half.
Pepperdine bounced back nicely after Thursday's loss to Gonzaga and improved to 6-2 this season when coming off a loss. Pepperdine's fifth conference win already ties the team's most league victories in the last nine seasons.
"We're in a great spot," Wilson said. "You can look back and wish that some games had went differently, but at the start of the season and if you look at where people picked us, and you look at the matchups and where we're disadvantaged, to say we'd be 5-3, we'd take it. But we can't be satisfied, we have to stay hungry and get more."
Pepperdine heads back on the road next weekend, visiting Saint Mary's on Thursday (Jan. 23) and Pacific on Saturday (Jan. 25). Both games are at 7 p.m. and can be seen on TheW.tv, while there will also be free audio broadcasts via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com with Al Epstein on the call.