Not much was at stake in Saturday’s regular-season finale between Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount. Both knew that they would be playing on the opening day of the West Coast Conference men’s basketball tournament next week, hoping that a remarkable four-day run was in them.
The two rivals produced a spirited warm-up act to another meeting in six days. Kingsley Costain’s three-point basket with 1:10 left helped Pepperdine pull out an 82-76 victory in front of 2,214 at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Pepperdine (16-13, 6-8) clinched the No. 5 seeding and avenged a 63-46 loss on Jan. 29. But all the win did was set up an opportunity for each to end the other’s season in Santa Clara for the second consecutive year.
“We’d like to have a double bye but that’s not the case,” Pepperdine Coach Paul Westphal said. “We’ve had battles with every team we play.”
Pepperdine led by nine with 5:46 left but Loyola (11-16, 3-11), the WCC’s last-place team, stormed back with an 8-0 run. Brandon Worthy’s basket gave the Lions a 76-75 lead but Costain got the decisive basket on the next possession when he made the Waves’ 14th three-pointer of the game.
“I knew if I got any opening, I had to let it go,” said Costain, who had 12 points.
Glen McGowan and Chase Griffin each made two foul shots to hand the Lions their fifth consecutive loss, all by eight points or fewer. Alex Acker had 23 points and McGowan 15 for the Waves. LMU’s Charles Brown had 24 points.
“We’re right there in the end,” LMU Coach Steve Aggers said. “We’ve just got to figure out how to win them in the last three or four minutes.”
Loyola came into the game as the conference’s next-to-worst shooting team. But the Lions made 11 of their first 12 attempts and took a 27-13 lead.
Pepperdine responded by avoiding mistakes making its own shots, cutting the deficit to four at the half.