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Waves Stun Portland After Huge Comeback


 
 

PORTLAND, Ore. – In what was perhaps one of the biggest -- and certainly one of the unlikeliest -- comebacks in Pepperdine men’s basketball history, the Waves pulled together and rallied from an 18-point second-half deficit to win at Portland, 71-66, in West Coast Conference action on Monday night.

 

Pepperdine’s top scorer, freshman guard Tyrone Shelley, fouled out with 12:27 left and the Pilots held a 51-33 lead with nine minutes to go. But out of nowhere, the Waves hit five three-pointers and went on a 17-1 run over two-plus minutes, making it a two-point game at 52-50 with 6:45 to play.

 

Portland (8-17, 2-7) still led by five at 66-61 with 2:15 left, but junior guard Rico Tucker (San Diego, Calif./University HS/Minnesota) took over. He converted a lay-up and the ensuing free throw with 2:09 left, then scored on another lay-up with 1:22 left to tie the game. Freshman forward Malcolm Thomas (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS)’s post move and basket gave the Waves their first lead since early in the game at 68-66 with 28 seconds left.

 

Tucker hit one free throw with 13.6 seconds left, then added two more with 3.9 seconds left to seal the win. He finished with a team-high 17 points, all of which came in the second half.

 

After Pepperdine (8-17, 2-7) got within two points, Portland’s final four possessions saw two turnovers and two missed shots. The Waves scored on each of their final seven possessions.

 

Junior guard Mike Hornbuckle (Westlake Village, Calif./Oaks Christian HS/Azusa Pacific) had two points at halftime but finished with 16 points and sank four three-pointers. Junior guard Ryan Holmes (Phoenix, Ariz./Millennium HS/Phoenix CC) and freshman guard Jon Reed (Rancho Palos Verdes, Calif./Peninsula HS) each scored 12 points.

 

Thomas, the Waves’ only remaining post player on the roster, gamely battled the Pilots’ bigger frontline and pulled down 12 rebounds, the ninth time this season he reached double-figures. He added nine points.

 

“This feels so good,” Tucker said. “I feel like all of our hard work that we’ve put in showed tonight. We came out and attacked in the second half and got the rebounds. Personally, after a couple of rotations, I felt like I could get past their guards. From there, I had to finish. So many guys hit big shots though, like Mike Hornbuckle and Jon Reed, plus there was Malcolm’s rebounding.”

 

“These guys played with the heart of a champion,” Pepperdine interim coach Eric Bridgeland said. “They’ve come close so many times and couldn’t get over the hump. But every time we’ve fallen short they’ve come back the next day and worked hard. They didn’t need this win, they deserved this win. I’m so proud of them.”

 

Shelley (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS), the Waves’ leading scorer entering the game at 15.2 points, was in foul trouble all night and was held scoreless. He fouled out with 12:27 left in the game and played only 11 minutes while taking only two shots.

 

The Waves suffered through an eight-minute scoreless stretch in the first half and shot just 25.9% percent from the field before halftime. Reed gave Pepperdine a 7-5 lead with his three-pointer at 16:21, but when he hit his next one with 8:23 left, the Pilots had exploited the Waves’ cold shooting and led 18-10. The teams roughly traded points the rest of the half and Portland went into the break with a 33-21 lead.

 

After the difficult first half, the Waves shot 57.7% in the second half and finished at 41.5% for the game. Portland shot 41% in both halves. The taller Pilots had a 39-24 advantage on the boards (though Pepperdine had a 14-13 edge in the second half). Pepperdine forced 23 turnovers.

 

The Waves’ nearly made a second-half comeback in the first meeting with the Pilots, an 82-78 Portland win in Malibu on Jan. 12. Portland had an 11-point second-half lead in that one but held on after the Waves cut the lead to one.

 

For the first time this season in a meaningful game, freshmen scored fewer than half of the Waves’ points, accumulating just 26 of the 71 (36.7%). The only other time freshmen scored less than half was in the 118-76 win over Hope International where reserves saw most of the playing time.

 

The Waves have their final two home games of the season next weekend when they host Santa Clara on Saturday (Feb. 16) and Saint Mary’s on Monday (Feb. 18). Both games will be televised by FSN Prime Ticket. Fans can listen to Al Epstein’s call of the action at www.pepperdinesports.com.

 


 

 

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