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UCLA Is Minus Martin but Wins

TIMES STAFF WRITER

The Pepperdine women’s basketball team got a big break just before tipoff at Pauley Pavilion Wednesday night.

But not big enough.

Even though UCLA was without one of its leading players, the Bruins blew the Waves back to Malibu, 85-51.

Maylana Martin, arguably the Pacific-10 Conference’s best player, sat out the game. UCLA’s leading scorer and rebounder, Martin has been suffering from migraine headaches and an aching back. The decision that she would not suit up was announced half an hour before the game.

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Even without her, though, UCLA showed depth, speed, solid defense, loose-ball hustle and aggressive rebounding in overwhelming a quality opponent before 2,327.

Pepperdine came in with an 8-3 record that included road victories over James Madison, Tulsa and Villanova and a home win over Florida State.

But for the second or third time in its 8-4 start, UCLA really did look like the conference favorite.

Coach Kathy Olivier said she was encouraged by her team’s performance. The Bruins open conference play at Arizona on Saturday afternoon.

The Bruins trailed early but held Pepperdine scoreless the final 4:49 of the first half, took a 43-31 lead by the break then streaked to a lead that reached 80-49 with three minutes left.

Martin (averaging 18.1 points and 10.7 rebounds) said she is still fighting her sinus infection.

“I’ve got pain between and behind my eyes,” she said. “It’s a little better, but it’s still bad enough to make me nauseous.”

Carly Funicello, who took Martin’s place, had 14 points and seven rebounds in 25 minutes, but UCLA’s most productive players were guard LaCresha Flannigan, with a career-high 18 points, and Melanie Pearson, with 19.

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Janae Hubbard, who started at center, had 16 points and a game-high 10 rebounds. Freshman guard Michelle Greco had a game-high six assists.

“I thought we played better against San Diego State, but we did play well tonight and we needed this, going to Arizona,” Olivier said.

Olivier spoke of rebounding deficiencies, but she couldn’t have been talking about the second half, when UCLA out-rebounded the Waves, 33-20.

The burst that sank Pepperdine was an 11-0 scoring run to end the first half, highlighted by four baskets by Flannigan, who also had two steals in the run.

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