GOLETA — Pepperdine hit the road Thursday night for its fourth straight game away from home, this time against UC Santa Barbarba.
The road, mostly in the person of Carrick DeHart, hit back.
DeHart, striking mainly from downtown, scored a game-high 28 points, including 6 of 8 from three-point range, to lead the Gauchos to a 76-68 win before 3,167 fans at the Events Center.
"They just outplayed us and outhustled us," Pepperdine Coach Jim Harrick said. The Waves, who fell to 4-3, finished a trip that started with a loss to Arizona, a narrow win over McNeese State and a defeat by Oklahoma State.
Then they ran into DeHart, the sophomore guard from Santa Monica High School, who kept his team in the game in the first half when he scored 19 points, making 5 of 6 three-pointers. Pepperdine somehow led at halftime, 39-37.
Strangely, the Gauchos, who won their fifth game without a loss, didn't start dominating the Waves until DeHart came out for a rest. He sat down shortly after he sank the last of his three-pointers with 17:32 remaining.
"They kind of got to me a little bit," DeHart said. "Why not put somebody else in to open up the passing lanes and get it inside."
Why not? With DeHart out, the Gauchos got a couple of inside baskets from freshman Gary Gray of Granada Hills and another from reserve Mike Doyle.
They also got more outside scoring from Brian Shaw and Brian Johnson, and they began pulling steadily away.
Pepperdine's Tom Lewis, who finished with a team-high 26 points, made a three-point play, and the Waves narrowed the gap to 64-60 with 6:29 left. But that was as close as they came.
DeHart, who had returned with about 10 minutes left, made 6 of 7 foul shots down the stretch to put the game away.
Harrick was asked to compare Santa Barbara's guards with others he had seen this season. "I tell you," he said, "there's not any player better than DeHart--anybody."
DeHart said that Pepperdine had beaten the Gauchos last season and that a revenge factor was working Thursday night.
"We worked extra hard to gain some respect," he said.