With injured point guard Marty Wilson out for the season, the rest of the Waves appeared to be confused, forcing Coach Jim Harrick to substitute liberally. With 3:50 left in the first half and the Waves trailing, 39-37, Harrick found the right combination.
Pepperdine ran off 14 straight points to take a 51-39 halftime lead and pulled away to a 93-85 victory before 1,842 fans at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
Pepperdine raised its West Coast Athletic Conference record to 4-1 and is 12-6 overall. Portland dropped to 0-5 and 5-13.
Pepperdine's lineup in the last four minutes of the half included forward Tom Lewis at a guard spot and Craig Davis, the team's best three-point shooter in his normal off-guard spot. Casey Crawford, the 6-foot-11 inch junior center, who had started for only the second time this season, also played during that stretch.
And that trio did most of the damage to Portland, which matched the Waves basket for basket, except for that 14-point run.
Lewis scored a game-high 27 points, Davis made 3 of 4 three-point shots and finished with 23 and Crawford had career highs of 16 rebounds and 13 points.
Adam Simmons led the Pilots with 20 points and Adolphis Gaffney had 19.
Both teams shot well. The Waves shot 53% (37 of 70), and the Pilots 51.6% (33 of 64).
"The whole ball game was in the last three minutes of the first half," Harrick said.
Pepperdine will play host to Gonzaga at 7:30 tonight and Harrick was asked if he would start the same players who had blown the game open against Portland.
Harrick wasn't sure who those players were, but when told, he said that he may use the same lineup against Gonzaga.