Junior forward Jane Nwaba launches a mid-range jump shot over a BYU defender Jan. 14 at Firestone Fieldhouse. Nwaba led the Waves in scoring with 15 points. Photos by Lydia duPerier
The Pepperdine Women’s Basketball team faced Brigham Young University at Firestone Fieldhouse on Jan. 14, losing 63-52. The loss marks the seventh tally in the Wave’s current losing streak and brings their record to 6-12.
Pepperdine played the game without key members, missing sophomore guard Ally Stedman, the team’s leading scorer and Head Coach Kristen Dowling, who did not coach due to illness. Assistant Coach Brian Rosario stepped up in Dowling’s absence to lead the Waves.
Rosario was not the only member of the program to step up, as junior forward Jane Nwaba matched her career high to lead the team with 15 points on 6-for-12 shooting. Sophomore guard Helena Friend and sophomore forward Meaali’i Amosa added 12 points and 10 points, respectively, with two triples apiece. Graduate guard Marly Walls led Pepperdine in rebounds, assists and steals with eight, six and two.
Senior Forward Becky Obinma goes up for a layup Jan. 14 at Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves came into the game with confidence.
Despite the loss, the opportunities for others to step up boosted the Wave’s confidence for the rest of the season.
“The biggest takeaway is that our kids played up,” Rosario said. “It was a great matchup. I think everyone knew what they needed to do, the shots that they needed to take, what we needed to do defensively, so, that’s our first takeaway,” Rosario said.
Rosario also noted the effect felt by the players mentally from stepping into bigger roles.
“And the second thing is, hopefully, we’re teaching ourselves that we can play with people,” Rosario said. “We’re a couple of players down, but everyone is playing up, and if we can match up the rest of the season, things are going to happen.”
The Waves came into the game with confidence, winning the tip and taking command of the game early on. They were up for the majority of the first quarter, led by Nwaba who gave Pepperdine energy with two tough buckets in the first two minutes of the game.
However, BYU took their first lead of the game after draining a three with 2:39 left in the first quarter. Pepperdine answered immediately with a Nwaba jumpshot, but BYU took the lead once again with 29 seconds left in the first. This was the last lead change of the game.
A BYU block by junior guard Kaylee Smiler at the end of the first quarter combined with the loss of the lead caused Pepperdine to lose the momentum they had built early in the match, and BYU broke away over the course of the game.
Pepperdine completely lost control of the game in the second quarter, as BYU capitulated on the energy they created with their play at the end of the first. The Waves could not buy a bucket in the second period, playing for over seven minutes without netting a field goal. They only cashed in on two other field goals, including a last-second three from Amosa to send the Waves into halftime down 30-20.
BYU continued to grow the difference, ultimately holding the lead by 22 with 6:16 left in the fourth quarter. However, a pair of Friend threes cut the difference to 16, and revitalized Pepperdine for a push back into the game.
Friend scored 12 straight points during this run, which was finished by a Nwaba three and an Amosa layup to bring the final score to a respectable 63-52.
“Rebounding, and just limiting turnovers, should be our main focus for the rest of the season,” Nwaba said.
Even with the loss, Pepperdine’s performance in Dowling’s absence was interpreted as positive, as Rosario said the team is still building on the values she has instilled in this team since the beginning of the season.
“All we’re doing is fulfilling what that has been,” Rosario said. “Now, it’s just been continuing the growth, continuing how to settle and play these games, getting our young players some experience, but ultimately, just fighting to get wins. Just continuing what she’s built.”
The Waves will take on Loyola Marymount University on Jan. 21 in Malibu, hopefully with Dowling returning.
“We definitely miss her, miss her big on the sidelines,” Nwaba said. “She’s another voice that we can hear, so, we’re missing her for sure.”
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