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Brown Rescues Pepperdine at Finish, 68-67


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 last chance to win, but Phillip Turner's driving shot in the key bounced off the front of the rim. Pepperdine guard Khary Hervey controlled the rebound and 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 minutes 19 seconds left on a layup 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 jumper 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 hit 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 sank 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 a scorching 59.1% in the first half, when they built a 38-26 lead. Pepperdine was 12 of 21 from the free-throw line for the game with forward Bryan Hill making only three of 10.

"Nobody really played well," Fuller said of his team.

Pepperdine recovered nicely from a rough start. After committing six turnovers and making only two baskets in the first seven minutes, the Waves got into their running game and had the Gauchos on their heels.

Brown, starting things off with a three-point basket, scored seven points during a 9-0 Wave run that turned a 14-8 deficit into a 17-14 lead midway through the half.

Minutes later, Pepperdine put together another 9-0 stretch, getting a three-pointer from Weir and four points from Marques Johnson, to extend its advantage to 31-22.

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