Geoff Lear wasn’t supposed to take the last shot for Pepperdine, but he knew what to do when the ball came his way.
Lear banked in a 15-footer at the buzzer Saturday night to give the Waves a 79-78 victory over St. Mary’s in a West Coast Conference game.
“The play at the end didn’t go as we planned, but the results couldn’t have been better,” Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said. “We’ve lost a couple of tough ones this season, especially one to Temple at the buzzer, so it’s great to have one go our way.
"(Doug) Christie kept us in the game with a big night offensively and then we needed a little luck at the end to win it.”
The Waves (11-8 overall, 5-1 in the WCC) hoped to get the ball to Christie, who scored 31 points, when they inbounded the ball in the backcourt with four seconds left.
However, Christie was covered and Lear came open.
“I got the ball about 25 feet from the basket and knew we didn’t have much time,” said Lear, who had 19 points and 10 rebounds. “I took two dribbles, squared up and put it off the glass.
“The buzzer sounded, the ball went through and I got mobbed.”
The Gaels (7-13, 3-4) took a 75-73 lead with 1:42 left on a basket by Eric Bamberger, but Pepperdine regained the lead on a three-point play by Lear at 1:04.
Steve Guild made a free throw to give the Waves a 77-75 lead with 19 seconds left, but St. Mary’s took its final lead with seven seconds left on a three-point shot by Ivan Aralica, who had 25 points.
St. Mary’s built a 39-29 lead with 2:08 left in the first half, but Pepperdine scored the last six points to get within 39-25.
The Waves went ahead early in the second half and had a 68-61 lead with 7:04 left, but the Gaels rallied and tied the score, 71-71, on Aralica’s three-pointer.