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Pepperdine Stalls Fullerton Comeback : College basketball: Waves hold on for 79-69 victory despite a late 13-0 run by the Titans.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

One long shot erased the agony of three futile minutes as Pepperdine survived Cal State Fullerton’s second-half rally to defeat the Titans, 79-69, Thursday night before 1,712 in Titan Gym.

The Waves (5-1) had little trouble breaking Fullerton’s full-court press and shredded the Titans’ zone defense while taking what appeared to be a commanding, 65-50 lead with 7:24 remaining.

But for the next three minutes, the Waves could do nothing right. A 10-second backcourt violation, a bad pass and turnover, an offensive foul, an inside shot blocked, a missed free throw . . . it all went wrong for Pepperdine.

Fullerton (1-3) took advantage by scoring 13 consecutive points, including seven by Bruce Bowen, to pull to within 65-63 with 4:25 remaining. Agee Ward scored four points during the run, including a short follow shot that cut the deficit to two.

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But Rick Welch, who was pulled from the starting lineup because Wave Coach Tom Asbury didn’t think he was working hard enough on defense, showed his offensive skills hadn’t eroded, hitting a wide-open, three-point shot to end Pepperdine’s drought.

Ward missed on the other end, and Doug Christie made two free throws to push the lead to 70-63 with 3:34 left. Geoff Lear, who scored a team-high 20 points, scored six of the Waves’ final nine points to keep Fullerton at bay.

“We got a little careless with the lead,” Asbury said. “We were complacent, and we’re not real sharp yet. We’re going to have a lot of games like this, and road games seem to end up this way. But I sure liked Rick shooting that (three-point) shot. I never mind him taking an open shot.”

Welch finished with 15 points and made three of his four three-pointers in the second half. Christie added 16 points and four assists, and Dana Jones had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Waves.

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Fullerton’s Joe Small scored 22 points but made only nine of 23 shots. Bowen had 20 points and eight rebounds, and Ward had 13 points.

The Waves, who have played man-to-man defense for much of the season, surprised the Titans by playing mostly zone in the second half. Fullerton had trouble penetrating and breaking free for open shots, and most of their points during the 13-0 run came in the transition game.

“We had some real dead spots,” Titan Coach John Sneed said. “Our zone offense was stale.”


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