This loss put the Waves’ record at 5-14 overall and 1-5 in conference play. Freshman guard Holly Griffiths led the scoring for the Waves with 14 points, a career high, while junior guard Helena Friend followed with 11. Griffith and senior forward Jane Nwaba also led the team in blocks with five.
“We’re here to fight; we’re here to battle, and these are young ladies that have been through a lot — overcome a lot of adversity already — and we’re not going to stop now,” Interim Head Coach Kelsey Keiser said.
Despite the loss, members of the team said they are always ready and motivated to get out on the court. Much of it has to do with the camaraderie the team has.
“We’ve been through a lot a lot as a team, and we have really strong team chemistry,” Friend said. “We’re coming together and not letting losses separate us but bring us together to talk about what we need to do better.”
The Waves struggled against Portland’s extremely aggressive play style, allowing the Pilots to score 18 second-chance points, while Pepperdine only scored six. The aggressiveness also impacted the team’s approach on the defensive end as multiple Waves racked up four or more fouls.
“We were trying to be pretty aggressive defensively, and we wanted to force them into turnovers while trying to get into passing lanes — maybe get some deflections and make them uncomfortable,” Keiser said. “It stings to get into foul trouble. It shortens our bench and options a little bit, but we’ve got to be able to play aggressive, and we’ve got to be able to take something away from them for us to have a chance.”
Portland’s aggressiveness bled into their defense, and Pepperdine’s offense took a hit, more specifically with Pepperdine’s missed shot selections. From behind the arc, Pepperdine only took nine shot attempts and made one, while Portland saw 28 shot attempts and made 10.
The Waves finished the game with 21 field goal attempts made out of 57 attempts, averaging to a shooting percentage of 36.8% from the field. Most of Pepperdine’s field goals came in the paint, 36 in total, However, the Waves failed to get to the free throw line early in the game, shooting only two free throws in the first half.
“They’re kind of known to be shot blockers; they led our league in that, and they know how to rim protect,” Keiser said. “A lot of our shots around the rim early in the first half we struggled to turn into free throws, but later in the game, we were being a little more aggressive, which was a huge key for us to get some more scores.”
Turnovers affected both teams consistently throughout the game as Pepperdine had 28 turnovers, and Portland had 20. However, the Pilots were able to capitalize off turnovers, scoring an immense 30 points — Pepperdine was only able to secure 14 points off turnovers.
“We just need to control what we can control,” Griffiths said. “Definitely, with our turnovers, we need to control those and realize we don’t have to be as fast as the other team — we just need to play our game.”
Pepperdine travels back home for a meeting against San Francisco on Feb. 1, tipoff at 6 p.m.
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