Pepperdine’s Glen McGowan called for the ball on a fast break, begging teammate Alex Acker for the ball with a minute to play Saturday.
“I wanted a dunk, I needed a dunk to finish,” McGowan said.
As more a thank you than an assist, Acker obliged, handing off to McGowan, who put a little more shine on his evening with a two-hander that accented Pepperdine’s 75-61 rout over Wisconsin. By the end, a large chunk of Badger fans among the 3,024 in Firestone Fieldhouse sat stunned, while the Waves celebrated beating the 20th-ranked team in the nation.
McGowan, who scored 29 points, carried the Waves (4-1) through the first half, then propped them up at key moments while they buried the Badgers (2-1) in the second half. Pepperdine led by as many as 25 points.
“Glen was having one of those games where he was really feeling it and we did a good job of getting him the ball,” Coach Paul Westphal said.
It seemed a good formula to win what could be a very big game for the Waves.
This certainly could be more meaningful to Pepperdine than devastating to Wisconsin, which is expected to be among the top teams in the Big Ten Conference this season.
Pepperdine still has games remaining with UCLA and Nevada Las Vegas, which would look good on the resume if this were another era. So beating the Badgers will be as good as it gets for Pepperdine before it starts play in the second-tier West Coast Conference.
“This is a validation game,” Westphal said. “It is certainly a happy day for us.”
Which ended with Westphal certain of one thing.
“We’re the biggest Badger fans in the world right now,” Westphal said.
In other words, a Badger Big Ten championship would do wonders to help out the Waves, should they need it at the end of the season.
“A game like this can catch the eye of the computer,” Westphal said.
Pepperdine opened the second half with a 25-4 run to take a 59-38 lead with 9:55 left. The Badgers made only two of their first 15 shots in the half and had 22 turnovers in the game.
“That was the best defense we have played since I have been here,” said Westphal, who’s in his fourth season.