Pepperdine picked up where it left off in last week's loss to Indiana, and the first half Sunday was not pleasant to watch.
The Waves appeared confused on offense and shot horribly. But the opponent was UC Santa Barbara, a notoriously slow-starting team that was completely lost trying to decipher the Waves' zone-press defense.
Eventually, Pepperdine's shots fell and so did the flustered Gauchos, 64-53, at Malibu.
The Waves (1-1) forced 16 turnovers in the first half but led only 22-18 because they missed 22 of 31 shots, among them all nine of their three-point attempts. The tone was set in the first few minutes when the Gauchos (0-1) turned the ball over on five consecutive possessions and Pepperdine did not score.
A 16-2 run early in the second half extended the Waves' lead to 38-23 and Santa Barbara never got closer than five points.
"We took a lot of bad shots against Indiana," Pepperdine Coach Jan van Breda Kolff said. "We were still thinking about that and as a result we played tight. Nobody wanted to make a mistake."
Santa Barbara made enough for both teams, committing 24 turnovers and making 34% of its shots.
Kelvin Gibbs dominated inside for Pepperdine with 18 points and 12 rebounds, taking advantage of the absence of Gaucho forward Adama Ndiaye, who is sidelined because of a broken finger.
"I've never been on a team that shot 29% in a half," said Gibbs, whose team finished with 41.8% shooting for the game. "But we kept our composure and kept playing defense. Our defense will always keep us in the game."
Pepperdine was without 6-foot-10 center Cedric Suitt, who is experiencing headaches from a concussion Nov. 7. Suitt played 32 minutes against Indiana on Tuesday but has not practiced since. Freshman center Will Kimble played 21 minutes Sunday and had three points and four rebounds.
At times Pepperdine had three freshmen in the game--Kimble, guard Michael Hall and point guard Micah McKinney, who started in place of Craig Lewis.
"We aren't at midseason form," Van Breda Kolff said.
Neither is Santa Barbara, which did not reach 10 points until B.J. Ward made two free throws with 5:12 to play in the half.
Brandon Armstrong, who fouled out against Indiana, had three fouls and made one of seven shots in the first half. He found his touch for a short time in the second half and scored 13 points on four-of-16 shooting. Lewis had 14 points and made eight of 10 free throws.
Gaucho guard Branduinn Fullove, a freshman from Simi Valley High, scored 13 points but suffered a right ankle injury with 3:06 to play and did not return.
This was Pepperdine's sixth victory in a row over the Gauchos. The Waves will face three more Big West Conference teams in the next three weeks.