GOLETA — Pepperdine Coach Tony Fuller called it a gut-wrenching experience.
Who could argue? Not after the Waves blew an 18-point second-half lead before coming back to defeat UC Santa Barbara, 68-67, on Gerald Brown's short bank shot with 14 seconds left to play Saturday night before 2,115 at The Thunderdome.
Santa Barbara had a chance to win, but Phillip Turner's driving shot in the key bounced off the front of the rim and was rebounded by Pepperdine guard Khary Hervey, who threw the ball across the half-court line as time expired.
It was the fourth consecutive victory for Pepperdine (5-2), which appeared in command after taking a 53-35 lead with 14:19 left on a layup by Brown, who scored 16 points.
But Santa Barbara (2-3) methodically chipped away at the deficit before finally overtaking the Waves, 67-66, on a leaning 15-foot jump shot by guard Lelan McDougal with 30 seconds left.
"I knew they were going to make a run," Fuller said. "This is a hell of a place to play."
Nonetheless, Pepperdine was still in good shape with 3:48 left, after reserve forward Wil Weir made a baseline jump shot to give the Waves a 65-56 lead. A minute earlier, Weir (15 points, seven rebounds) brought his teammates to their feet with a one-handed windmill dunk.
Any celebrating, however, was put on hold after Santa Barbara center Mark Flick made his third three-point basket of the game to pull the Gauchos within 65-61 with 3:10 left.
Two free throws each by McDougal--who led all scorers with 20 points--and Turner made it 65-64 with 1:15 left, as Pepperdine went cold from the floor. The Waves were outscored, 20-7, in the final 8:23.
"They got some transition buckets," Fuller said, explaining Santa Barbara's comeback. "We were a little slow getting back on defense."
The Waves made 13 of 30 shots (43.3%) in the second half after shooting 59.1% in the first half, when they built a 38-26 lead. Pepperdine was 12 of 21 from the free-throw line, with forward Bryan Hill making only three of 10.
"Nobody really played well," Fuller said of his team.
Flick, who entered the game as Santa Barbara's second-leading scorer with a 17.3 average, was held scoreless in the first half after picking up three fouls early. He finished with nine points.