Pepperdine Men’s Basketball sophomore guard Houston Mallette (No. 0) shoots a jump shot versus No. 13 Gonzaga on Feb. 18, at Firestone Fieldhouse. Mallette led the Waves with 22 points. Photos by Brandon Rubsamen
Pepperdine Men’s Basketball sophomore guard Houston Mallette sprinted to the left wing in transition and drilled a 3-pointer to cut No. 13 Gonzaga’s lead to just one at 78-77 with 3:50 remaining in the second half.
The Waves trailed for most of the second half, as the Bulldogs opened the last 20 minutes of the game with a 52-42 lead. Slowly but surely, the Waves trimmed the lead to a single possession game, but with every answer, the Bulldogs had one of their own and got away with a 97-88 victory.
“It’s been difficult. We haven’t won nearly as much as we thought we would this year,” Head Coach Lorenzo Romar said. “But, that’s where we’re winding down here. I think our team has made really good progress going into the conference tournament.”
The Waves snapped their 10-game losing streak with a thriller double-overtime win versus Portland on Feb. 4. They followed that performance with a commanding win over Brigham Young University on Feb. 9, but lost to the University of San Francisco on Feb. 11.
With a sold-out crowd at Firestone Fieldhouse, the Waves came out with energy early in the game. It was neck-and-neck for most of the first half. For the Waves, the largest run was an 8-0 run, and the largest lead was at 26-21 with 8:44 remaining in the first half. The Waves were able to hang on and stayed in the game until a 5-0 run closed the second half for the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga senior forward Drew Timme was the main focus for the Waves defensively, Romar said.
“We wanted to make sure we kept him away from the basket as much as we could,” Romar said. “We tried to double team in the first half. We were doing a decent job. In the second half, he was just such a good player. We couldn’t get to him in time to slow him down.”
When the Waves played the Bulldogs to open their West Coast Conference play, Timme had a 35-point outing, along with 10 rebounds back on Dec. 31 in Spokane, Wash. In this game, Timme finished with 34 points but was limited to 12 points in the first half. Timme and Gonzaga junior guard Julian Strawther combined for 62 of the Bulldogs’ 97 points.
The Waves had three players who hit 20 points or better — Lewis eclipsed his season average of 17.6 points with 20 points, Mallette had 22 points and cashed in three 3-pointers and Porter finished with 20 points. Porter had a 6-0 run by himself late in the second half that kept the Waves in the game.
“We’ve been able to stay together [as a team].” Romar said. “That’s the one thing — and come out and compete and continue to improve. It shows a lot about our team’s character.”
The Waves tried to catch up to the Bulldogs for most of the second half, but the Waves shot 68% from the free-throw line, and that proved to be the difference in the tight contest.
Though the Waves have just two WCC games remaining in the schedule, Romar said the team learned about the little details that make the difference between winning and losing.
The Waves travel to Santa Clara, Calif. to take on SCU on Feb. 23.
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