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WCC Men's Basketball Recaps

Dec. 18, 2007

Arkansas-Little Rock - 70
Pepperdine - 65

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. - Freshman forward Malcolm Thomas continued his sterling play by notching his fourth double-double of the season, but the Pepperdine men's basketball team suffered a 70-65 loss at Arkansas-Little Rock on Tuesday night.

Thomas (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS) posted team highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds and he added a season-high four blocked shots. He has scored in double-figures in 12 of 13 games, including the last 10 straight.

This was the eighth out of a 10-game stretch of contests on the road for Pepperdine. The Waves fell to 4-4 during this stretch and 5-8 overall. UALR improved to 9-1.

Senior guard Rico Tucker (San Diego, Calif./University HS/Minnesota) and freshman center Daniel Johnson (Perth, Australia) each scored 10 points for the Waves.

"There was a breakdown in the second half," Pepperdine Coach Vance Walberg said. "We competed and played hard, but they've got a heck of a team. We've just had a hard time shooting and handling the ball lately, which is disturbing. When you look at the big picture, we're getting better, but tonight's game was winnable and it's unfortunate we weren't able to take advantage of our chances at the end of the game."

After the Trojans jumped out to a 9-2 lead, a 17-2 run that saw seven points by Thomas helped the Waves into a 19-11 lead with 10 minutes remaining. After a three-point play by senior guard Jason Walberg (Fresno, Calif./Clovis West HS/Saint Mary's), the Waves led 24-16 with 5:45 left.

Things went dry from there, as the Trojans went on a 12-0 run to reclaim the lead at 28-24. After going 5 ½ minutes without scoring, Tucker ended the drought with two free throws with 4.5 seconds left in the first half.

The 28 first-half points were the fewest surrendered by Pepperdine this season, but the Waves trailed at halftime for the 12th time in 13 games this year.

Pepperdine began the second half with a layup by freshman guard Tyrone Shelley (San Diego, Calif./Crawford HS) to tie the game at 28-28, but the Trojans hit two three-pointers to retake the lead at 34-28, and they would build a double-digit lead at 44-34 with a little more than 12 minutes to go.

The Waves slowly chipped away at the Trojans' lead, getting it down to four points at 51-47 with 7:46 left following a Tucker steal and dunk, and then three points at 57-54 with 4:56 left after a Shelley free throw. Pepperdine had several attempts to get even closer but couldn't convert, and UALR hit enough free throws down the stretch to hold on.

Although the Waves had a 36-33 edge in rebounding, they couldn't overcome 23 turnovers and the Trojans' 68.2 percent shooting in the second half.

Freshmen have scored more than half of the Waves points in every game this season, including 64.6 percent (42 of 65) tonight.

The Waves complete their three-game pre-Christmas cross-country road trip at Manhattan on Friday (Dec. 21) at 7 p.m. ET (4 p.m. PT). Fans can listen to Al Epstein's call of the action at www.pepperdinesports.com.

Long Beach State - 71
San Francisco - 68

Long Beach, CA - USF rallied late, but could not overcome a determined Long Beach State squad and dropped a 71-68 non-conference decision Saturday night in the Walter Pyramid. The Dons (4-7) drop their second straight, while the 49ers (3-7) improve to 2-1 against the West Coast Conference.

Freshman guard Myron Strong and junior guard Manny Quezada scored a team-high 18 points to lead four Dons in double-digit scoring. Sophomore forward Dior Lowhorn added 14 points in 39 minutes, while senior guard Danny Cavic connected for 13 points, including a late 3-pointer and pulled down six rebounds.

For the second straight ballgame, San Francisco opened up a big lead and surrendered a huge run midway through the opening period - this time a 19-2 burst by Long Beach State after leading 12-7 in the early going. The Dons trailed by as many as 12 in the first half, 26-14 with 8:58 remaining before heading into the locker room down seven, 38-31.

After shooting at a remarkable .682 (15-22) clip from the field in the opening period, including a .750 (6-8) from beyond the arc, the 49ers cooled somewhat in the second, converting on .435 (10-23). Long Beach State finished the game at .556 (25-45) and limited USF to a .435 (27-62) pace from the floor, .375 (9-24) from long distance.

San Francisco lost the rebound battle 32-26, although the Dons pulled down 13 offensive boards compared to seven for Long Beach State. USF forced 19 49er miscues and committed 14 turnovers.

Donovan Morris scored a game-high 26 points on 9-of-14 from the field with seven rebounds, four assists and a steal in 37 minutes for Long Beach State. Darnell Porter added 18 points and five boards.

USF returns to action for its final game before the Christmas holiday Saturday, December 22 when it travels to South Bend, Indiana to take on Notre Dame. Tip-off against the Irish is set for 1:00 PM (PT).