A torrid level of shooting propelled both Pepperdine basketball teams to wins in their versions of the West Coast Conference Championships in Las Vegas.
The Waves women’s and men’s hoops squads defeated teams from Santa Clara in their opening games of the tournaments before being eliminated in the events’ second round. Both teams entered the WCC spectacles seeded last.
The Pepperdine women’s team hit 50 percent of its shots on the way to defeating Santa Clara, 74-63, on March 1, and the Waves men’s team shot a WCC Tournament record 70.8 percent from the field in route to beating Santa Clara, 85-69, the next day.
Junior Yasmine Robinson-Bacote tallied 23 points to lead the Waves women’s team to its first-round win. The forward shot 8-of-13 from the field and grabbed 10 rebounds. Robinson-Bacote’s teammates, senior Kim Jacobs and junior Paige Fecske, had hot hands in the game as well. The two guards knocked down nine three-pointers. Fecske scored 20 points and made four triples and Jacobs scored 15 points and hit five threes.
Pepperdine’s offense, or more specially Robinson-Bacote, Jacobs and Fecske, began cooking early in the contest. Fecske hit back-to-back threes to break open a 7-7 game, and the Waves never looked back. The team had a 19-12 lead at the end of the first quarter.
Jacobs hit a pair of triples and Robinson-Bacote scored twice to fuel Pepperdine’s 10-2 run at the beginning of the second quarter. Pepperdine led, 34-22, at halftime. Jacobs, Fecske and Robinson-Bacote scored all but two of Pepperdine’s first-half points.
The game’s third and fourth quarters featured more of the same from Pepperdine—Robinson-Bacote, Fecske and Jacobs filling up the basket. Pepperdine lead by 15 points at one point and finished the game with a double-digit lead.
Waves first-year head coach Delisha Milton Jones said after the win that when Pepperdine is aggressive on defense and offense “it’s lights out for the other team.”
“When we see the ball going in the basket, it energizes us offensively and defensively,” she said. “When you see an opportunity like that, you feed off it. Anytime we score we are going to have a different type of intensity about us when going back on defense.”
Jacobs said before the win, Milton Jones told her to shoot open shots.
“That’s what I did, and they went in,” Jacobs said.
Sophomore forward Kameron Edwards scored 25 points and freshman guard Trae Berhow rang up a career-high 23 points, including five threes, in the Waves men’s team’s victory. Colbey Ross, also a freshman guard, scored 15 points and had seven assists and junior forward Darnell Dunn had nine points.
The Waves’ hot shooting gave them a 21-5 lead, which they never relinquished. Edwards scored eight points during that early stretch and Berhow hit two threes. Pepperdine led, 38-24, at halftime and then, 46-27, in the third quarter. Santa Clara shrank Pepperdine’s lead to seven points later in the game, but after a few made baskets, Pepperdine increased the lead to 60-44. The Waves led by 10 or more points the rest of the contest.
After the game, Marty Wilson, who coached the Waves for the last time in the tournament, said the victory was Pepperdine’s best game of the year on offense and defense. The coach said although the team has dealt with a lot of adversity the group was still coachable.
“They continue to listen, they continue to buy in and tonight was a showing of that,” Wilson said. “To execute as we did, to share the ball, to make simple plays…that’s a disciplined team. Guys playing for each other.”
Gonzaga, the tournament’s top seed, beat the Pepperdine women’s team, 81-70, on March 2. Robinson-Bacote scored 19 points and had seven rebounds, while Fecske had 16 points, six rebounds and three assists. Senior forward Peyton Langston scored 11 points. The team ended the season with a 10-20 record.
The men’s team was defeated on March 4 by Saint Mary’s, ranked 22nd nationally, 69-66. Freshman guard Colbey Ross scored 15 points, grabbed seven rebounds and had two steals to lead Pepperdine. Dunn had 15 points and six rebounds. Edwards and Berhow each had 13 points. Edwards also had eight boards. The squad ended the season with a 6-26 record.