LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Nineteen points from Stacy Davis, another big defensive effort and a heart-stopping finish added up to a 50-47 victory for the Pepperdine men's basketball team over San Diego in the quarterfinals of the West Coast Conference Tournament on Saturday afternoon.
The fourth-seeded Waves (18-12) checked off another box in their "best season in a decade" bucket list, as they are moving on to the WCC semifinals for the first time since 2004. Monday's opponent and game time will be determined later this evening.
Davis (Laveen, Ariz./Fairfax HS), a junior forward who was named to the All-WCC first team for the second straight year, scored 12 of Pepperdine's 18 first-half points and finished with a game-high 19 points. He also had eight rebounds, three assists, two steals and a block.
The Waves had the ball and a three-point lead at 48-45 with under a minute to go, but the Toreros (15-16) managed to keep the outcome in doubt until their final shot. After Pepperdine failed to score, USD's Brandon Perry got free for a dunk with 45 seconds left.
The Waves missed again with 12 seconds left, and the Toreros pushed the ball up the floor. USD's Johnny Dee had a good look but his floater to take the lead was off the mark, as was Vasa Pusica's putback attempt. Freshman guard Shawn Olden (Tulsa, Okla./Union HS) grabbed the rebound with 2.1 seconds left and was fouled.
Olden made both free throws to give the Waves a three-point lead again. Rather than foul, the Waves allowed Dee to throw up a last-gasp shot from halfcourt that wasn't close.
"We told our guys it doesn't matter how it looks, we had a goal and a mindset for the week," Pepperdine Coach Marty Wilson said. "We talked about the bottom line, and our bottom line was to be playing on Monday."
Pepperdine held USD to 31.7% shooting for the game (no better than 32.1% in either half) and it was the sixth time this season that the Waves held an opponent below 50 points (the program's most since 1950-51).
After shooting 48.0% in the second half, the Waves finished at 41.9% for the game. Despite the disparity in shooting percentages, the Toreros kept things close due to all of their extra shots via turnovers (12 to eight) and offensive rebounds (19 to seven).
Davis was the only Wave to score in double-figures, but his teammates provided a great lift in the second half. With Pepperdine down 24-18 at halftime, players other than Davis had only contributed six points. In the second half, that number rose to 25, including seven apiece from Olden and sophomore guard Jeremy Major (Pasadena, Calif./Maranatha HS).
San Diego took its biggest lead of eight points by scoring the first two of the second half. But Major then started a 9-0 run with a three-pointer, which gave Pepperdine its first lead of the game at 27-26 with 15:51 left on a jump shot by junior guard Atif Russell (Katy, Texas/Seven Lakes HS).
The second half saw four ties and five lead changes. A steal and lay-up by Major would give Pepperdine its biggest lead of five points at 35-30 with 12 1/2 minutes to go. A drought saw USD come back and take a 39-36 lead, but sophomore forward David Jesperson (Merrill, Wis./Merrill HS), who contributed five points, drained just his second three-pointer of the season with 6:48 to go, tying the game at 39-39.
Tied for the final time at 43, Olden hit a three-pointer to put Pepperdine ahead 46-43 with three minutes to go. The Waves went back up 48-45 with two minutes left on an off-balance jumper in the lane by Davis. That set up the game's exciting finish.
Dee, San Diego's leading scorer, was held to 11 points on 5-for-20 shooting.
The Toreros have been a thorn in the Waves' side in recent years in the WCC Tournament. This was the eighth time that the two schools have met in the last 11 years, and was just the second win for Pepperdine in that time.
Pepperdine has already clinched its first winning season since 2005, its first winning season in league play since 2004 and its best finish in the WCC (fourth) since 2004. The Waves' 18th win of the season gave them their most since 2002.