It's a Good Senior Night as Waves Beat Portland, 70-65
Feb. 18, 2012
Taylor Darby (17 points) and Corbin Moore (10 points) enjoyed a successful Senior Night as the Pepperdine men's basketball team defeated Portland, 70-65, in the Waves' home finale and an important West Coast Conference game for both schools.
Heading into the final week of the regular season, the Waves (9-18, 3-12) pulled even in the win column with the Pilots (6-21, 3-11). The victory could give Pepperdine the tiebreaker that would allow the Waves to avoid the 8/9 opening-round game at the WCC Basketball Championships.
Freshman guard Jordan Baker (Tempe, Ariz./Tempe HS) matched Darby (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills HS) with a team-high 17 points. Junior guard Joshua Lowery (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS) scored 14 points and junior guard Caleb Willis (Stockbridge, Ga./Stockbridge HS) did a little bit of everything, scoring six points and recording team highs of nine rebounds and six assists.
The Waves trailed 27-26 at halftime but used an 18-3 run to take their largest lead of 13 points at 47-34 with 11 minutes to play. Though the Pilots cut the deficit to three at 58-55 with 3:20 remaining, Pepperdine's defense took over, not allowing Portland to score again until 35 seconds were left and the Waves had reclaimed a double-digit lead.
"When we went up by 10 or 11 points, we talked about playing to win, not playing not to lose," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "I sensed some of that in their eyes. Some of it was fatigue. But we told them to continue to be aggressive, defend and push the ball. We used our timeouts to get them some rest. We did a great job defensively at the end, and that's been our staple all year."
Wilson credited his three seniors that saw action, including walk-on guard Richard Branning (Menlo Park, Calif./Menlo-Atherton HS), who saw a career-high five minutes of action.
"This was a great senior night for those guys, especially for Taylor and Corbin, with how they played tonight, especially down the stretch," Wilson said. "They're our go-to guys. I couldn't be more satisfied with what they've done this season, both on and off the court. They're going to be successful in life."
Portland led for the last time at 31-29 as the Waves scored the next seven points, the last five by Lowery. After a Portland three-pointer, the Waves scored another 11 straight points (extending the overall run to 18-3). Five different players scored during the latter spurt: Lowery hit a jumper, Baker made a lay-up, Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS) sank a three-pointer, Darby scored on a short jump shot and Willis made a remarkable driving lay-up, putting the Waves in front 47-34 with 11 minutes left.
The Pilots would make a couple of small runs, however, and cut the Waves' lead to three at 58-55 with 3:20 left after a jumper by Tanner Riley.
But Pepperdine's defense came through in the end, forcing Portland to miss its next six shots from the field. The Waves forced one turnover and the Pilots also missed the front end of a one-and-one.
In the meantime, Darby and Lowery each made two free throws to push the lead back up to seven. With one minute left, Willis collected an offensive rebound and scored on the putback to make it 64-55. Moore added a free throw with 45 seconds left to help put the game out of reach.
Pepperdine's regular-season finale is Thursday (Feb. 23) at Santa Clara at 7 p.m. The game will be shown by Prime Ticket, but on tape delay at 10 p.m. Fans can listen to Al Epstein's audio broadcast and join an interactive live game blog/chat at www.pepperdinesports.com.
If Pepperdine and Portland stay tied with three wins apiece, the Waves will have the tiebreaker over Portland, which plays host to Saint Mary's and visits BYU this week. If the Pilots win either, that would relegate the Waves to the 8/9 game at the WCC Tournament, regardless of the result at Santa Clara.