Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick doesn't think his team's 90-65 drubbing by DePaul last week was all bad.
"I think our team matured from the experience," Harrick said. "Games like that prepare you for situations which we may encounter the rest of the way. Our main objective, just as it has been all year, is to win the league."
To win the West Coast Athletic Conference, Pepperdine, 17-8 overall and in a first-place tie in the WCAC with Santa Clara (each 5-1), probably needs at least a split on the road, at Gonzaga in Spokane tonight and at Portland on Saturday.
The Waves had a tough time winning at home against Gonzaga, 59-55, and Portland, which lost in the last minute, 76-75.
Gonzaga Tough at Home
Gonzaga (14-7, 3-3) is paced by center Tim Ruff, averaging 11 points and 7.5 rebounds, and forward Jason Van Nort, averaging 10.7 points and six rebounds. Against Pepperdine, Ruff and Van Nort combined for 42 points and 23 rebounds.
Coach Jay Hillock's Bulldogs are 11-1 at home, their only loss coming in overtime, 68-60, to Santa Clara.
Portland (11-10, 1-5) is the league's hard-luck case of the year. The five league losses for Coach Jack Avina's team were by a total of 17 points, and Avina could be without his top rebounder, Dave Flint, who was suspended last week for missing classes and did not play in a 59-58 win over Gonzaga.
Top scorer for Portland is forward Darran Jenkins, who averages 11.9 points.
All of Pepperdine's starters continue to score in double figures, led by guard Dwayne Polee, who is averaging 16 points. Forward Eric White is averaging 14.9 points and a team-high 8.9 rebounds.
Harrick said, "I feel we must execute on both ends of the floor if we expect to win two games. Our offense has not been fluid since Loyola (Jan. 17). The defensive pressure we have applied to other teams has carried us over the hump."