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Undermanned USF Is No Match for Pepperdine : Forwards Lewis, Middlebrooks and Howard Lead Waves to a 94-69 Victory

Times Staff Writer

The University of San Francisco, without leading scorer and rebounder Mark McCathrion, was an easy mark for Pepperdine Friday night.

The Waves routed the Dons, 94-69, before 2,088 fans at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.

Not surprisingly, the stars for Pepperdine were all forwards. Tom Lewis scored a game-high 25 points, Levy Middlebrooks had 21 points and 9 rebounds and reserve Dexter Howard had 17 points and a game-high 10 rebounds in 19 minutes.

Pepperdine, 15-7 overall, raised its West Coast Athletic Conference record to 7-2. USF (11-11, 3-6) lost its sixth straight game.

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But Lewis, Middlebrooks and Howard wouldn’t have felt as free to roam near the basket if junior center McCathrion, the Dons’ best defensive big man, had been around to plug up the middle. The USF big man, who did not make the trip to Malibu, was averaging 16 points and 6.2 rebounds a game.

At first, USF Coach Jim Brovelli would not say why McCathrion wasn’t with the team. Brovelli said, “I sat down this week and had a talk with him, and I decided not to bring him.”

But with a little prodding, Brovelli admitted that McCathrion’s behavior during and after a loss to Pepperdine last week had influenced his decision.

Late in that game, Brovelli had a few words with McCathrion after the center had attempted an ill-advised three-point shot. And after the game, McCathrion told the media that he didn’t understand why Brovelli had gone to a spread offense in the waning minutes of a close game.

Later Brovelli said that McCathrion’s suspension was a result of a series of things and said his player had been frustrated when he made his comments last week.

The USF coach said that he planned to have another talk with McCathrion next week and thinks the problem can be worked out.

Against little defensive pressure, Middlebrooks scored 15 of his 21 in the first half. Donny Moore hit a 27-foot shot at the buzzer to give the Waves a 47-33 lead at intermission.

Pepperdine appeared to be cruising in the second half, but the Dons twice narrowed the gap to 7 points, the last time at 64-57 with 9:41 left. But in the next seven minutes, the Waves outscored USF, 23-9, and built an 87-66 lead.

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Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick said he thought some defensive lapses by his substitutes had let the Dons get close.

Rodney Tention led the Dons with 17 points and 8 rebounds, and teammates Joel DeBortoli and Keith Jackson each had 16 points.


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