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Pepperdine Takes Control of St. Mary's With Defense

February 05, 1989|RAY RIPTON | Times Staff Writer

After beating Loyola Marymount at its running game Friday night, St. Mary's tried to return to its defensive game Saturday night.

But Pepperdine beat the Gaels to it--and beat them at it.

The Waves (15-8 overall) gained a 65-60 victory before a crowd of 3,104 in Firestone Fieldhouse at Malibu. Pepperdine took sole possession of first place in the West Coast Athletic Conference at 7-1.

St. Mary's is 18-3 and 6-2.

The Gaels, who came into the game shooting 54.2% from the field, were held to 45.5% by Pepperdine.

It also took Marty Wilson's fine defensive play down the stretch to stop St. Mary's, which suffered its first road loss after eight wins.

Pepperdine was leading, 61-54, when Terry Burns made a three-point shot. After Tom Lewis made a free throw, Burns made another three-pointer, cutting Pepperdine's advantage to 62-60.

Again Lewis was fouled, and again he made one free throw.

St. Mary's pushed the ball up the floor and again went to Burns. But Wilson, anticipating the play, stole the ball and passed to Shann Ferch, who then made a breakaway dunk, the game's final basket.

Pepperdine may have won with its defense, but St. Mary's Coach Lynn Nance said that a technical foul called on one of his players late in the game gave the Waves a big assist.

Dan Curry, who finished with a team-high 17 points, made a driving layup with 3:54 to play. But afterward, a two-shot technical was called on St. Mary's for delaying the game.

Officials said that a St. Mary's player had deliberately knocked the ball out of bounds afterCurry's basket, which kept Pepperdine from inbounding the ball quickly.

Ferch made both foul shots on the technical, and the Waves retained possession--which put a crimp in the Gaels' offense.

Nance said that Pepperdine "did what they wanted to do pretty much" on defense.

But he said he thought that the ball had bounced off the chest of one of his players when the technical was called.

"The play was called after one of their players ran back to an official and suggested it," Nance said. "That's a pretty big play if it (decides) the conference."

Pepperdine Coach Tom Asbury said the most important aspect of the game may have been "how we handled their press at the end to win it."

Asbury said that Dexter Howard and Geoff Lear had done a good job of containing Robert Haugen, who finished with four points after he had scored a career-high 37 Friday night against Loyola.

But he also said that the Waves had been in a zone two-thirds of the time and had mixed up their defenses.

Nance said that Haugen, who played only 20 minutes, was tired, the result of the exhausting game against Loyola. He said that he did not use Haugen a lot because "we were in a catch-up situation, and we needed as much quickness as we could get in the lineup."

Howard scored 22 points to lead the Waves, and Lewis had 18.

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