March 6, 2014
MALIBU, Calif. - Ea Shoushtari and Grace Leah Baughn scored career highs of 30 and 19 points, respectively, to spark the Pepperdine women's basketball team to an 80-74 upset over Santa Clara in the first round of the West Coast Conference Championships on Thursday afternoon.
The 10th-seeded Waves (6-24) continue their season for at least one more day and will face second-seeded Brigham Young on Friday (March 7) in the quarterfinals sometime after 2 p.m. The game will be shown on BYUtv and TheW.tv and Al Epstein will have an audio-only broadcast via WaveCasts at PepperdineSports.com.
There were 15 lead changes and six ties between the Waves and the seventh-seeded Broncos (10-20). The last one came on a key possession with 2 1/2 minutes left. Shoushtari (Los Angeles, Calif./L.A.C.E.S.) drove in, made the basket and was fouled. Though she missed the free throw, sophomore forward Amanda Lovely (Palo Alto, Calif./Archbishop Mitty HS) got the offensive rebound, and freshman guard Allie Green (Sacramento, Calif./Sacramento HS) sank a jumper with 2:17 left, putting Pepperdine ahead 64-60.
The Waves wouldn't trail again, as Shoushtari added a three-pointer on their next possession, and the Waves clinched it by making 11 of 14 free throws in the final 1 1/2 minutes.
"This was a great team effort," first-year Pepperdine Coach Ryan Weisenberg said. "We responded mentally. The girls responded to a couple of runs, which we met and matched and overcame."
Pepperdine picked up its first victory since a 100-93 double-overtime thriller against Santa Clara back on January 2. The Waves used just seven players and were without their leading scorer, junior guard Bria Richardson (Hawthorne, Calif./Serra HS), who missed her 13th straight game with an ankle injury.
"We learned quite a bit from this season," Weisenberg said. "The injuries were rough. But I have to hand it to our team, they practice really hard and they never quit. We competed all season long. We've come up a little bit short in some games. But we're excited about what we've accomplished and the growth that we've had."
Shoushtari made 11 of 25 shots and seven of nine free throws. Thirteen of her points came in the final two minutes, including 6-for-6 from the free throw line. Shoushtari also tied Pepperdine's single-game WCC Tournament record, equaling the 30 points that Lauren Bell scored two seasons ago.
Baughn (Norcross, Ga./Wesleyan School) sank all four of her three-point attempts and was 5-for-7 overall. Green added 15 points off the bench.
The Waves had a big 50-35 edge on the boards, which included 20 offensive rebounds and a 16-8 advantage in second-chance points.
Santa Clara got off to a fast start and went ahead 13-7. But Baughn hit two three-pointers during a 10-0 run, giving the Waves a 17-13 lead. A 15-2 Pepperdine run, which included nine points by Shoushtari, had the Waves up at 13 at 32-19. Santa Clara closed out the half on a 7-0 run to make the score 32-26 in Pepperdine's favor at the break.
The Broncos regained the lead five minutes into the second half, and it was part of a 17-6 stretch that saw Santa Clara take a seven-point lead a 51-44 with under 10 minutes to play.
Baughn scored the next five points, however, followed by a lay-up by Shoushtari and two free throws by sophomore guard Keitra Wallace (Brea, Calif./Brea Olinda HS), allowing Pepperdine to go back in front 53-51 with seven minutes to go and setting up the big finish.
Pepperdine's game against BYU on Friday will begin 30 minutes after the conclusion of the first quarterfinal between Pacific and Portland, which starts at noon.