With nine postseason appearances in the last 14 seasons, the Pepperdine women’s basketball team has developed into a consistent winner and an annual contender in the West Coast Conference.
Over the last 17 seasons, Pepperdine has posted a winning record 12 times and has recorded 20-win seasons on seven occasions.
The Waves made their first-ever NCAA Tournament appearance in 2000 with an at-large bid, then captured the WCC Tournament title and subsequent NCAA appearances in 2002, 2003 and 2006. Pepperdine also won or shared four WCC regular-season titles during a five-season span.
In addition to NCAA appearances, the Waves were invited to the WNIT in 1999, 2001, 2004, 2010 and 2011.
All-time, the Waves have a record of 596-485 (.551) over 37 seasons with 13 postseason appearances.
Pepperdine began sponsoring women’s basketball during the 1975-76 season under the direction of head coach Marcia Cantrell. Patty Meyers assumed the head coaching duties the following year and quickly transformed Pepperdine into one of the region’s top programs. During a four-year span from 1977-78 through 1980-81, Meyers led the Waves to three appearances in the AIAW Championships. Then, after the 1981-82 season, Pepperdine earned a berth to the eight-team National Women’s Invitation Tournament in Amarillo, Texas. In seven seasons, Meyers put together a record of 146-70 (.676).
Ron Fortner began his 10-year tenure as the Waves’ head coach prior to the 1983-84 campaign, and guided the program from NCAA Division I independent status to membership in the WCC in 1985-86.
Fortner markedly improved Pepperdine’s schedule and developed a number of outstanding players, including All-American Maureen Formico, the school’s all-time leading scorer.
In June of 1993, Mark Trakh of nearby Brea Olinda High School in Orange County was hired to direct the program. Under his guidance, the Waves posted six straight 20-win seasons from 1998-2003. A program first came in 1999 when his team tied for the WCC regular-season title. The Waves went on to win outright regular-season crowns in 2000, 2002 and 2003.
In the postseason, Trakh took the Waves to second-place finishes at the WCC Tournament in 1999 and 2000, then won back-to-back tournament titles in 2002 and 2003. Trakh’s teams made six straight postseason appearances, three in the NCAAs and three in the WNIT.
Prior to the 2004-05 season, Julie Rousseau was handed the coaching reins. She brought with her a wealth of basketball experience, having been a head coach of the WNBA’s Los Angeles Sparks and an assistant coach at Stanford.
In just her second season, Rousseau took the Waves back to the postseason. Despite finishing the year with a 14-17 record, Rousseau led her team to a spectacular run at the WCC Tournament, as the Waves won three games in four days, including a 71-67 victory over top-seeded Santa Clara in the championship game. That gave the Waves a spot in the NCAA Tournament.
In 2010, Rousseau’s Waves won 20 games for the first time in her tenure, made the championship game of the WCC Tournament and advanced to the WNIT. Pepperdine made its second consecutive WNIT trip in 2011.
Professionally, three former Pepperdine players have been noteworthy. Rasheeda Clark, who played for the Waves from 1999-2001 and was the 2000 WCC Player of the Year, became the school’s first-ever player to be chosen in the WNBA Draft. Then, Jennifer Lacy became the first WCC women’s basketball player to make a WNBA roster, as she won a spot with the Phoenix Mercury in 2006. Lacy was then part of the Mercury’s 2007 WNBA championship squad and is now with the Tulsa Shock. Miranda Ayim played briefly for the Tulsa Shock in 2011.
In 2012, Ayim became the first Pepperdine product to compete in the Olympics in the sport of women’s basketball. The 2010 Division I-AAA ADA Scholar-Athlete of the Year helped her native Canada to qualify for the London Games.