Special to The Malibu Times
The Pepperdine Waves men’s basketball team will take a shot at extending their winning streak on Saturday, while the Waves women’s squad will look to dribble one victory closer to a .500 record.
The 3-5 women’s team will host Boise State at 1 p.m. in Pepperdine’s Firestone Fieldhouse. The 4-8 men’s team will host Southeast Missouri four hours later on the same court.
Both Waves bunches last played at the tail end of the last week. The women’s team was defeated 71-75 at Portland State on Dec. 10. The men’s group downed Alabama State 79-62 at home the next day.
Alabama State initially played with more energy, said Pepperdine men’s basketball coach Lorenzo Romar, but a couple of players kept the Waves in the contest in the first half.
“Houston Mallette really carried us on the offensive end, and Keith Fisher III grabbed 10 rebounds,” Romar said. “Between those two guys, they kept us going for us to get into the second half.”
The Waves trailed by 10 points with nine minutes left in the first half, but with Mallette scoring all but six of Pepperdine’s first 26 points, the Waves held a 36-34 lead at halftime.
Mallette, a freshman guard, who led Pepperdine with 24 points, scored 20 of his points in the first half.
“In the first half, I was able to make some shots and get going,” recalled Mallette, who nailed five three-pointers in the game. “I put a lot of time and work into my craft, so these are shots I practice. The coaches believe in me. I believe in myself. “
Pepperdine controlled the game throughout the second half. Junior forward Jan Zidek knocked down two triples to give the Waves an eight-point cushion right after halftime. Alabama State narrowed Pepperdine’s lead to two points a few times, but a triple and a jumper by freshman forward Maxell Lewis put the Waves up 59-49. Then, senior guard Jade’ Smith had six points in a 10-0 run that gave Pepperdine an 18-point lead with 4:40 left in the game. Alabama State never threatened the home team the rest of the way, and Pepperdine finished with a 17-point victory, their largest win margin of the season.
The graduate transfer forward Fisher grabbed all his rebounds in the first half. Zidek scored 11 of his 16 points in the second half, while Smith finished with 11 points, seven rebounds, four steals, and three assists. Lewis had 10 points. Additionally, junior center Victor Ohia Obioha and sophomore forward Kendall Munson had a block party on defense. Obioha had four blocks, and Munson had three.
Romar said Pepperdine played better ball in the second half.
“I thought we did a much better job defensively,” he said. “We did a much better job of getting ourselves in position to make shots. Eventually, we were able to wear [Alabama State] down a little bit and make the game much easier for us.”
Romar said more than one player can lead Pepperdine.
“We have several guys that can make baskets,” he said. “It was a collective effort by us in the second half to pull this one out.”
On Monday, Dec. 13, Mallette was named the West Coast Conference’s Freshman of the Week due to his performance against Alabama State and the two threes he hit in Pepperdine’s 82-69 win over San Jose State on Dec. 6. The guard shot better than 50 percent from the field in both contests.
The Waves women’s team shot 52 percent from the field, and four players scored in double figures against Portland State but still lost by four points.
Senior guard Malia Bambrick tallied 12 points, three assists, three boards, and three steals in the contest. Redshirt junior guard Jayla Ruffus-Milner scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds. Senior guard Cheyenne Givens had 10 points and five assists, while freshman forward Meaali’i Amosa also scored 10 points and snagged four rebounds.
Pepperdine led 18-13 at the end of the first quarter and pushed their lead to seven points before Portland State went on a run to claim a 35-31 lead at halftime.
Portland State grew their lead by 10 points, then led 48-37 in the third quarter. However, the Waves made a push to cut Portland State’s lead to 54-49. In the fourth quarter, Pepperdine went on an eight-point spurt to take a 63-62 lead, but Portland State went on a scoring spurt of their own to go up by six points. Amosa splashed consecutive jump shots to close the Waves’ deficient; however, Portland State scored the contest’s final four points to win.
The Pepperdine men’s team downed San Jose State before beating Alabama State. The Waves opened their season with a loss to Rice on Nov. 9. They then defeated Idaho State before falling to Utah Valley. The team beat UC Davis before losing games to UC Irvine, Fresno State, TCU, Grand Canyon, Nevada, and UC Santa Barbara. Pepperdine plays at Oregon three days after hosting Southeast Missouri.
The Waves women’s team began the season with a loss at UCLA on Nov. 10 before beating Eastern Washington. The bunch fell to UC Santa Barbara, then downed UAB, and fell to Cal State Fullerton. Pepperdine beat CSU Bakersfield, then lost to California Baptist and Portland State. Twelve days after hosting Boise State, the Waves host Pacific, their last contest of 2021.