It only seemed fitting that the Pepperdine basketball team’s record 38-game West Coast Conference winning streak would come to an end against San Francisco.
After all, Pepperdine passed the Dons to break the record.
San Francisco ended the streak with a 75-72 victory over the Waves before 3,573--the fourth-largest crowd ever at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
“We knew it had to end sometime,” Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said. “We didn’t do the things we did before to perpetuate the streak. The law of averages just caught up with us.”
It was the first loss for the Waves in conference play since the University of San Diego beat them, 91-88, on Jan. 11, 1991. The streak started the following night with a 67-61 victory over Santa Clara.
The loss also snapped an eight-game winning streak for Pepperdine, which fell to 14-4 overall and 5-1 in the conference. San Francisco is 13-7 and 3-2.
The prospects appeared good for Pepperdine in the early going. Behind the shooting of forward Dana Jones, the Waves opened an early lead and never trailed in the first half.
Jones scored 15 points in the half, including the first two baskets of the game. He also gave the Waves their biggest lead of the half at 34-22 on a jump shot with 3:42 to play.
San Francisco cut its deficit to 38-33 late in the half on a three-point basket by point guard Orlando Smart, and Pepperdine held a 39-33 advantage at halftime.
The Waves, who made their first 10 shots, made 65.5% of their shots in the half.
But Asbury said he didn’t have a good feeling at halftime.
“We were ahead, but I didn’t like the way we were playing,” he said. “We seemed like we were a half-step off all of the time.”
Asbury’s fears were realized in the second half when the San Francisco came back to take a 49-47 lead on two free throws by Smart with 12 minutes to play.
The Waves regained the lead, 53-51, on a jump shot by point guard Bryan Parker with 8:36 to play and held a 55-53 advantage after center Derek Noether made a layup with 8:04 remaining.
But that was the last lead for Pepperdine.
San Francisco went ahead for good, 56-55, on a basket and a free throw by forward Kent Bennett with 6:32 remaining.
The Dons led by as many as six points before a Pepperdine rally fell short.
“We just didn’t make the plays we had to down the stretch,” Asbury said. “We didn’t take good care of the basketball and we were tired, but we can’t use that as an excuse.”
Instead, Asbury was quick to compliment the Dons.
“We played hard and competed,” he said. “I can’t complain. I think you have to give (San Francisco) credit. They came in and competed all the way with us.”
San Francisco Coach Jim Brovelli tried to play down his team’s accomplishment.
“We knew they had the streak, but it’s still only one conference game,” he said. “We were fortunate that we did the right things tonight, but it was a little ironic that we were the ones to break it.”
San Francisco was led by Smart with 21 points and Bennett with 19 and nine rebounds.
Pepperdine was paced by Jones with 23 points and a game-high 14 rebounds.