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Pepperdine Runs Streak to 10 Games

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Even though not at its best Friday night, Pepperdine was still good enough to handle Gonzaga.

After a lackluster first half, the Waves had a big second half and routed the Bulldogs, 84-56, before 2,314 at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.

Pepperdine extended its winning streak to 10 games and improved to 16-8 overall and 10-1 in the West Coast Conference. Gonzaga fell to 12-12 and 3-8.

With their 10th victory in a row, the Waves tied Texas for the fourth-longest winning streak in the nation this season. Pepperdine had been tied for fifth with Kansas, which, like Texas, did not play Friday night.

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Top-ranked Nevada Las Vegas has the nation’s longest winning streak with 32 victories over two seasons. Fordham and Coppin State are tied for second, each with 13.

The Waves, in first place in the WCC, moved two games ahead of San Diego. The second-place Toreros dropped to 8-3 in the WCC after losing at the University of San Francisco, 89-81, Friday night.

Pepperdine had a tough time getting started. Rick Welch missed his first three attempts from three-point range. But his first three-point basket gave the Waves a 12-7 lead and his second extended the lead to 16-7 with 9:34 to play in the half.

Doug Christie, Pepperdine’s leading scorer, was stymied by Gonzaga’s box-and-one defense and had only four points in the first half.

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But others took up the slack.

Geoff Lear had 10 points and 10 rebounds, Welch added eight points, and Damin Lopez made all three of his three-point attempts and finished the half with nine.

Lear finished with 18 points and a game-high 15 rebounds, and freshman Dana Jones, who had five points and four rebounds in the first half, finished with 10 points and 12 rebounds.

Lopez did not score in the second half, and Welch finished with 13.

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Pepperdine led by as many as 16 points and was ahead at halftime, 40-29. The Waves shot 45.5% from the field in the first half to 37.9% for Gonzaga.

Jarrod Davis of the Bulldogs scored 15 of his game-high 21 points in the first half, including four three-point baskets. He made two more three-point shots in the second half.

A three-point basket by Davis cut the lead to 48-39 with 12:54 to play. But Gonzaga got no closer.

A breakaway dunk by Christie, who finished with 18 points, ignited a 25-3 run in the next seven minutes. And the Waves led, 73-42, with 6:04 to play, putting the game out of Gonzaga’s reach.

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Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said that his team didn’t play as well Friday as it had last week in an 80-56 victory at Gonzaga.

“But we may have played poorly because they played better here than they did up there,” Asbury said.

He said that it was the first time this season that anyone had used a box-and-one on Christie.

“He has seen a lot of traps, a lot of best defenders, but no box-and-one. But he responded pretty well.”

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Asked if he thought his team, even if it finishes in first place, would have to win the WCC tournament to get into the NCAA tournament, Asbury said: “There’s no question about it.”


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