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VALLEY / VENTURA COUNTY SPORTS

Pepperdine Learns From Experience

Women's basketball: Waves, after roller-coaster season, confidently return four of five starters.

November 21, 2000|STEVE HENSON | TIMES STAFF WRITER

MALIBU — Smiles that turned to frowns have turned around again.

Twenty-one victories led to grins for the Pepperdine women's basketball team last season. But the Waves could hardly grin and bear a humiliating 68-51 loss to San Diego in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament.

Pepperdine squeezed into the NCAA tournament because it had an 11-game winning streak entering the debacle against the Toreros. The Waves battled No. 4-seeded Virginia before losing, 74-62, in the first round of the Midwest Regional, saving face in the process.

Now those faces are positively glowing.

Four of five starters and several key reserves are back. Guard Rasheeda Clark, the WCC player of the year, and All-WCC guard Damaris Hinojosa are among the returners.

Forward Nadja Morgan, who had 23 points and eight rebounds in a season-opening victory against Western Kentucky, is improved. And sophomore guard Tamara McDonald started 14 games last season.

"Our returning players have been together for two years now and have experienced incremental success the last two years," Coach Mark Trakh said. "They have high expectations and want to make an impact in the post-season."

All but one WCC coach picks Pepperdine (21-10, 12-2 in conference play last season) to repeat as champion. It was the third consecutive season the Waves have reached the 20-victory plateau and the program's first NCAA tournament appearance.

"We enjoyed a fine season and established a standard for future teams to achieve," Trakh said. "Advancing to the NCAA tournament was a great accomplishment and major breakthrough."

Better times might be ahead. Clark, an athletic senior, averaged 15.5 points. Hinojosa, a sophomore from Moorpark High, scored in double figures in 25 games, averaged 14.1 points, 4.2 rebounds, 2.7 assists and 1.6 steals.

Morgan, who averaged 9.6 points and 6.6 rebounds, must have a strong presence in the front court. Center Dee Braxton is the only starter lost to graduation and her rebounding and defense will be missed.

Several reserves return in the front court, including senior Nesha Thomas and juniors Anna Lembke and Sarah Richen. The trio combined for 14.4 points and 12.9 rebounds last season.

Three freshmen could make an impact: Center Kristen Bowden (6 feet 6) of New Braunfel, Texas, guard Shandrika Lee of Riverside North and forward Shannon Mayberry of Edmond, Okla.

"I am excited about the players we have coming in," said Trakh, who is beginning his eighth season. "They will give us size and flexibility in our lineup."

The blend of old and new could keep the Waves smiling all the way to the NCAA tournament. They opened the season by winning two of three games at the Hawaiian Regent Wahine Classic in Honolulu.

"Now that we have experienced the NCAA tournament, our goal is to get back there and have some success," Trakh said.

(BEGIN TEXT OF INFOBOX / INFOGRAPHIC)

PEPPERDINE WOMEN

SCHEDULE

Date: Opponent, Time

Today: Connecticut, 7

Nov. 25: **Houston, 5

Nov. 26: **Kentucky/Missouri, 1/3

Dec. 2: at UC Irvine, 5:15

Dec. 6: at Cal State Fullerton, 7

Dec. 9: Cal Poly, 5

Dec. 15: at USC, 7

Dec. 17: Northridge, 1

Dec. 20: at Texas A&M, 5

Dec. 28: at UCLA, 7

Dec. 30: Nevada, 7

Jan. 6: at Pacific, 5

Jan. 11: *at Santa Clara, 7

Jan. 13: *at San Diego, 7

Jan. 17: *at Loyola Marymount, 5:15

Jan. 20: *Loyola Marymount, 4:30

Jan. 26: *San Francisco, 7

Jan. 27: *St. Mary's, 7

Feb. 1: *at Gonzaga, 7

Feb. 3: *at Portland, 7

Feb. 9: *San Diego, 7

Feb. 10: *Santa Clara, 7

Feb. 16: *Portland, 7

Feb. 17: *Gonzaga, 5

Feb. 23: *at St. Mary's, 7

Feb. 24: *at San Francisco, 7

Mar. 1-4: WCC tournament, TBA

* Conference games

** Pepperdine Classic

ROSTER

*--*

No. Player P Ht Exp. Yr 5. Tiffany Grimm G 5-7 2 Jr. 12. Tamara McDonald G 5-7 1 So. 20. Rasheeda Clark G 5-10 2 Sr. 21. Keani Christianson F 6-2 TR Jr. 22. Damaris Hinojosa G 5-10 1 So. 23. Anna Lembke F 6-3 2 Jr. 25. Nesha Thomas F 5-11 3 Sr. 30. Shandrika Lee G 5-6 HS Fr. 32. Shannon Mayberry F/C 6-4 HS Fr. 33. Jennifer Saari-Lakin G 5-7 2 Jr. 35. Sarah Richen F 6-2 2 Jr. 44. Nadja Morgan F 6-2 2 Jr. 55. Kristen Bowden C 6-6 HS Fr.

*--*

Coach: Mark Trakh (8th season, 119-84 overall). Assistants: Jody Wynn, Derek Wynn, Heather Wassenberg

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