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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Waves Feel Fine on Road

Basketball: Pepperdine hangs on in final two minutes for 69-66 victory at Santa Barbara.

January 04, 1998|ROB FERNAS | TIMES STAFF WRITER

GOLETA — Life on the road hasn't been easy for Pepperdine this season, but the Waves are slowly warming to the task of playing in hostile gyms.

They continued the maturing process Saturday night by outplaying UC Santa Barbara in the second half and withstanding a shaky final two minutes to hold on for a 69-66 victory before 1,384 at the Thunderdome.

Pepperdine (8-4) completed nonconference play with a three-game winning streak and, perhaps more importantly, won away from home for only the third time in seven outings.

"It's important that we showed ourselves that we can win on the road," Coach Lorenzo Romar said. "Men win on the road. Our guys were men tonight.

"Two or three weeks ago, we may not have won this game. But we've grown up since then."

Santa Barbara (3-7) made the Waves sweat this one out. The Gauchos held Pepperdine to one point in the last two minutes and nearly forced overtime. But they missed three three-point shots in the last 12.9 seconds, with Matt Stock's bouncing off the rim at the buzzer.

"It was nerve-wracking," Romar said. "On the road, those things happen."

The Waves were without their starting forwards down the stretch, after Tommie Prince fouled out with 4:23 to play and Bryan Hill followed suit with 1:39 left.

Pepperdine appeared in good shape after Gerald Brown, who led all scorers with 20 points, made a driving basket to put his team up, 68-63, with 2:01 left. From there, the Waves were limited to a free throw by Jelani Gardner that gave them a 69-66 lead with 21.8 seconds left.

"In the last three games, we've been able to put it together and get the win," Brown said. "It's going to help us going into conference [play]."

The Waves made 15 of 23 shots (65.2%), including four of six from three-point range, in the second half to erase a 37-29 halftime deficit.

Shaking off a lethargic first half, Pepperdine played more intensely and outscored Santa Barbara, 13-4, in the first four minutes of the second half to take its first lead, 42-41, on a layup by Prince.

Continuing the assault, the Waves got three consecutive three-point baskets from Brown, Marc McDowell and Gardner to extend their advantage to 51-45. Gardner finished with 15 points and seven assists. Hill also scored 15.

"That swing at the beginning of the second half cost us the game," Santa Barbara Coach Jerry Pimm said. "We gave them life, and they earned it."

Pepperdine extended its lead to eight, 55-47, before the Gauchos mounted a charge and tied the score, 60-60, on a jump shot by Dwayne Williams with 6:05 to play. Williams led Santa Barbara with 15 points on seven-for-eight shooting.

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