Sluggish Pepperdine Defeats San Diego, 62-53

Times Staff Writer

Pepperdine's 62-53 victory over San Diego in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference women's basketball tournament Saturday was a split decision for Wave Coach Mark Trakh.

He was pleased with his team's defense, which limited the host Toreros to 33.3% shooting from the field. But he complained about a lack of focus on offense that led to Pepperdine missing nine of its first 10 shots and falling behind by 12.

"I thought we were in a lot of trouble," Trakh said.

The top-seeded Waves (21-7) recovered from their inauspicious start with the help of a career-high 22 points by senior forward Keani Christianson, who blamed the sluggishness on the team's byes through the first two rounds of the tournament.

"I believe it hurt us," she said. "We didn't come out aggressive and strong."

Pepperdine, the defending champion, will play third-seeded Santa Clara (20-9) in the championship game at 2:30 p.m. today at Jenny Craig Pavilion. At stake is an automatic berth in the NCAA tournament, which Trakh believes the Waves already deserve because of an RPI of 44.

"Hopefully this win will get us in," he said. "I don't think the NCAA can ignore us."

Freshman guard Tiara Harris led San Diego (13-17) with 16 points.

In the other semifinal:

Santa Clara 60, Gonzaga 59 -- Kayla Huss made a running three-point basket at the buzzer in regulation for Santa Clara, and the Broncos hung on in overtime when Gonzaga (17-12) missed two shots in the final three seconds.

Huss, an all-conference guard, had missed 10 of 12 shots before tying the score at 52-52 on an off-balanced fling that brought Santa Clara back from a six-point deficit with 1:50 left in regulation.

The game was delayed for an hour after the lights went out midway through the second half because of a power blackout in the area.

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