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COLLEGE BASKETBALL / WEST COAST CONFERENCE TOURNAMENT : Pepperdine Advances to Semifinals

March 06, 1994|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — Through the highs and lows of Pepperdine's streaky season, the one constant has been the play of Dana Jones.

The senior forward came through again Saturday, leading a second-half surge that carried the Waves to a 79-62 victory over St. Mary's in the first round of the West Coast Conference tournament at Santa Clara's Toso Pavilion.

By beating the Gaels (13-14) for the 13th consecutive time, Pepperdine (17-10) advanced to tonight's semifinals at about 7:30 against San Francisco.

Jones scored 16 of his game-high 27 points in the second half, when Pepperdine erased a three-point deficit, and also led all players with 13 rebounds, four steals and two blocked shots.

"I'm glad I recruited him," Wave Coach Tom Asbury deadpanned after his team's fifth consecutive victory. "He played terrific. Arguably he's the best player we've ever had at Pepperdine. I've been there for 15 years, and he's the best player I've ever coached."

Jones, a three-time all-conference selection, has picked up his game in recent weeks.

"We didn't have an answer for him," St. Mary's Coach Ernie Kent said.

Jones blamed a lack of intensity for Pepperdine's poor first half. St. Mary's, which lost to the Waves by 20 and 23 points in the regular season, took a 12-4 lead and stayed close until midway through the second half.

"They were playing harder than us," Jones said. "We turned it up in the second half. It contributed to our defense, and that picked up our offense."

Jones, fouled after his third dunk of the second half, made the free throw to give Pepperdine a 64-50 lead with 3:40 to play. St. Mary's shot only 32.1% in the second half and 35.8% for the game.

Center Derek Noether helped take inside pressure off of Jones by scoring 12 points.

San Diego 63, Portland 57--Guard Doug Harris had 20 points, five assists and three steals to lead the Toreros (17-10) to their first tournament victory since 1991. Forward Brooks Barnhard added 15 points, including a three-point play that gave San Diego the lead for good, 50-48, with 6:29 to play.

San Francisco 76, Santa Clara 74--Guard Gerald Walker scored the Dons' last 10 points, including an 18-foot jump shot with three seconds left, to beat the defending tournament champions on their home court. Walker led San Francisco (17-10) with 25 points.

Santa Clara (13-14) had tied the score, 74-74, on two three-point baskets by guard Steve Nash.

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