Nov. 30, 2007
BOZEMAN, Mont. - Freshman forward Malcolm Thomas' lay-up with six seconds remaining lifted the Pepperdine men's basketball team to an 86-84 victory over Texas-Pan American in the first game of Montana State's GranTree Inn Classic on Friday evening.
The Waves will play the winner of tonight's Montana State-Alcorn State game in Saturday's championship game at 7:30 p.m. MT (6:30 p.m. PT) at Worthington Arena. Fans can listen to Al Epstein's call of the action at www.pepperdinesports.com.
Pepperdine (4-4) extended its winning streak to four games with yet another second-half comeback. The Waves have trailed at halftime in all eight games this season, though tonight the deficit was only one point at the break, 40-39. The Waves overcame deficits of 14 points in the first half (at 20-6) and nine points in the second (last at 57-48).
The Waves rallied to take a nine-point lead at 84-75, but the Broncs (4-3) hit three three-pointers in the final two minutes, the last coming with 15 seconds remaining, to tie the game at 84-84. On Pepperdine's final possession, senior guard Jason Walberg (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West HS/Saint Mary's) drove toward the basket and dished the ball off to Thomas (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS), who laid it in. UTPA missed a three-point attempt at the buzzer.
Freshman guard Tyrone Shelley (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS) scored a team-high 19 points, while Thomas scored 16 on 8-for-10 shooting. Walberg added 14 points, including a crucial four-point play when the Waves trailed by nine points in the second half.
"I'm happy and proud that we won, but to go nine points down, and then take a nine-point lead, all of a sudden we missed assignments and left their best shooters open," Pepperdine Coach Vance Walberg said. "We didn't do well defensively. On the last play, Jason did a great job of driving to the basket, not getting a charge and getting the ball to Malcolm."
It may have been snowing outside the arena, but both teams were as hot as could be from the field. Pepperdine shot a season-high 57.6% from the field, while Texas-Pan American shot 52.9% overall and connected on 15 of 27 three-pointers.
During the four-game winning streak, the Waves have averaged 90.3 points. Tonight's 86 points were the fewest Pepperdine has scored in the last five games. It's Pepperdine's first four-game winning streak since January 2005.
The 14-point deficit that Pepperdine overcame was the largest of any in the four victories. In three of the four wins, the Waves have survived double-digit deficits.