In a game of pressure defense and outside shooting, Portland's Greg Anthony, a slick freshman guard from Las Vegas, had the best hand against Pepperdine Saturday night.
Anthony scored a career-high 31 points, 20 in the second half, to lead the Pilots to a 69-57 West Coast Athletic Conference victory before 2,266 fans at Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu.
Portland improved to 9-7 overall and 2-2 in conference play. Pepperdine dropped to 5-11 and 1-3.
Anthony hit 10 of 16 shots from the floor, including 3 of 6 three-pointers and was 8 of 9 from the foul line.
It was a good thing for Portland that Anthony had the hot hand because the Pilots as a team shot 39% (23 of 59) and fell behind early.
Pepperdine's Levy Middlebrooks, who had a game-high 14 rebounds, scored 10 of his team-high 16 points in the first half as the Waves got out to a 7-0 lead and a 32-26 advantage at halftime.
But Portland began pressuring the Wave guards on defense, and they had trouble feeding the ball inside to Middlebrooks and Eric White.
White, a senior experiencing his worst shooting slump, finished with 14 points on 5-of-17 shooting. And the Waves shot just 31% in the second half and 35.3% for the night (24 of 68).
The Pilots grabbed their first lead on an Alex Simmons' layup about three minutes into the second half, and the lead seesawed for a couple of minutes after that.
But Anthony connected on a jumper from the foul line and then hit a 21-footer to make it 44-38 for Portland with 13:37 left. After his outburst, the Pilots never trailed.
Portland Coach Jack Avina said that Anthony, a 6-3 guard from Las Vegas Rancho High School, not only shot well but that he was "much more under control than he has been."
"He played good defense, distributed the ball well and gave us a lot of leadership," said Avina, whose team had lost 10 straight to Pepperdine dating to 1981.