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Pepperdine Overcomes Slow Start

November 20, 1998|LONNIE WHITE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Midway into the first half Thursday, Fresno State Coach Jerry Tarkanian's full-court trapping defense looked as good as Pepperdine had feared as the Bulldogs raced out to a comfortable lead.

Fresno State's advantage, however, turned out to be short-lived once Pepperdine settled down. The Waves, using a 35-14 run to take control, claimed a 78-71 victory before 2,926 at Pepperdine's Firestone Fieldhouse.

Pepperdine (3-0) again displayed the type of solid defense and depth that could soon earn the Waves a spot in the top 25.

"It took our guys a few minutes before they realized they could play with [Fresno State]," said Pepperdine Coach Lorenzo Romar. "Our guys were not intimidated. They were just overly pumped up at the start."

Reserve forward Marc McDowell led Pepperdine with 16 points and eight rebounds. Kelvin Gibbs had 15 points and four rebounds and Jelani Gardner had 10 points, eight assists and six rebounds.

Fresno State (2-1), which averaged 100 points in its first two games, was shut down by a relentless Pepperdine defense led by guards Tommie Prince and Robert Fomby. Along with Gardner, they helped limit the Bulldogs' standout backcourt of Chris Herren and Courtney Alexander to 10-of-23 shooting.

"We believe that we're a good team," said Fomby, a reserve who had 12 points and five assists in 24 minutes. "We worked hard over the summer and now we're using that same approach in our games."

Fresno State made 40% of its shots. Melvin Ely led the Bulldogs with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Alexander scored 16 points.

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