March 1, 2007
MALIBU, Calif. - Freshman Teena Wickett tossed in a pair of free throws with nine seconds remaining in overtime to ice the Pepperdine Waves' 71-67 come-from-behind victory over the Saint Mary's Gaels in the quarterfinal round of the West Coast Conference Tournament Thursday night in Portland, Ore.
Pepperdine has now won four straight WCC tournament games dating back to last season's 3-0 run to the program's third tournament title. The Waves improve to 14-16 on the season, while Saint Mary's end the year 14-14.
"It was a well-fought game," said Pepperdine head coach Julie Rousseau, who improved to 5-1 in WCC Tournament games. "Our kids seemed to struggle all year in terms of fighting back from a deficit. In the second half, we just told them to stay positive and I thought they really responded. We're very proud of our players and proud of our effort. Saint Mary's is an incredible team."
Shannon Johnson did not score a point in the contest until she toed the free throw line with 23 seconds left in overtime. The Highland Village, Texas native buried both attempts to provide the game-winning points.
Pepperdine shot 50-percent in the overtime (4-for-8) and held Saint Mary's to 17-percent (2-of-12) and connected on all four of its free throws - all coming with less than 30 seconds on the clock - a stat Saint Mary's head coach Paul Thomas was quick to point out.
"The most important statistic is field goal percentage," noted Thomas. "We took four more shots than them in overtime, but we only made two of twelve. They were four for eight. There's your ball game right there. When the game counted in the last five minutes we did not shoot the ball well."
Wickett's 23 points on 7-of-10 shooting led all players, while Teiosha George recorded the fourth double-double of her career with an 18-point, 12-rebound performance. Daphanie Kennedy added 13 points for Pepperdine and Miranda Ayim pulled down 11 boards.
Maija Lahde scored 17 points to go along with 12 rebounds for Saint Mary's. Sheridan Arredondo and Serena Benavente had 14 points apiece and Ehosa Obaiza picked up 10 rebounds.
Pepperdine had a chance to win the game with 12 seconds remaining in regulation but George missed a potential game-winning layup. On the ensuing play, the Palmdale, Calif. native hustled back on defense to block Benavente's shot at the buzzer, keeping the score locked at 59.
Saint Mary's extended a seven-point halftime advantage to as many as nine on several occasions and controlled the tempo of the game during the early moments of the second half.
Trailing 45-39 with under eight minutes to play, Wickett hit a pair of free throws that started Pepperdine on an 8-2 run to tie the score at 47-all. The Waves took their first lead since 10:56 in the first half when two Ayim free throws put Pepperdine on top for good, 49-47.
The Waves extended their lead to as many as six as part of a 6-0 run but a Benavente trey with 2:06 to play pulled the teams even at 57-57.
Pepperdine led just twice in the first half and never by more than two points. But thanks to a solid defensive effort, the Waves never let Saint Mary's pull away as the Gaels' largest lead of the opening 20 minutes was just six.
The victory, combined with a 65-49 Loyola Marymount victory over Santa Clara sets up a rematch of last year's semifinal match-up between the Waves and the Lions. LMU won both regular season meetings against Pepperdine. Tip is scheduled for 12 p.m. PT Saturday at the Chiles Center.
Notes: The victory marked the third straight season Pepperdine has ended Saint Mary's season in the first round of the WCC Tournament ... Pepperdine improves to 16-12 all-time in overtime games and 3-0 on the season ... Pepperdine is now 2-2 in overtime in WCC Tournament play ... Pepperdine improves to 8-1 this season when scoring 70+ points ... Pepperdine is 18-5 under Rousseau when scoring 70+ points ... Pepperdine is now 18-11 all-time in the WCC Tournament ... Teena Wickett had 21 of her 23 points in the second half and overtime ... All five Pepperdine starters recorded at least one steal.