Saint Mary's Defeats Pepperdine 80-69, Advances to Semis

Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett ballin'. - Ethan Miller

The Gaels and Waves squared off in the No. 4 vs. No. 5 game of the WCC quarterfinals.

The Gaels aren't used to the quarterfinals. The past they're pretty used to being the two seed and getting a double-bye into the semifinals. Well, this year there is no double-bye not that it matters to the Gaels since they're the four seed.

Maybe that's why they struggled early, the unfamiliarity of it all.

Saint Mary's struck first but Pepperdine did so more often. Malcolm Brooks hit a jumper to tie it up at two, then hit another to give the Waves the lead. Six minutes into the game the Gaels trailed by four after a Niko Skouen three.

Saint Mary's began the game 1-7 from the field. But, by the time Niko Skouen hit that three, the Gaels had started rounding into form. James Walker and Beau Levesque hit threes 50 seconds apart. That made the Gaels just 3-9 from the field, but it sparked a 15-24 finish to the half.

Pepperdine had the opposite shooting trend. The Waves began 5-7 from the field but went 6-16 after that. At the break the Gaels led 41-28.

The double-digit lead was immediately cut into coming out of halftime, but the Gaels managed to keep it at three possessions for the most part. Brad Waldow and Beau Levesque put in work on the interior for the Gaels. Waldow made only two field goals in the half, but his work in the post earned him ten field goal attempts, of which he converted seven.

Finally, ten minutes into the half, the Waves began catching up to the Gaels. Unfortunately, what sparked their charge was an elbow to the face.

Kerry Carter pulled down a defensive rebound over two Waves. Amadi Udenyi applied pressure to Carter, who responded by rapidly pivoting and swinging his elbows (which is never a good idea). After a handful of attempts to create space between himself and Udenyi, one of his elbows connected with Udenyi's jaw. Obviously, he did not manage to create any space.

Instead, he was assessed a flagrant 1 foul. Udenyi was shaken up but did not leave the game.

A couple of minutes later, the Waves pulled within seven, as close as they had been all half. On the defensive end they weren't letting the Gaels's shooters, who had been knocking down threes all game long, get open. Paul McCoy airballed a three as the shot clock buzzer sounded. The Waves had the momentum.

But, they promptly lost it.

Saint Mary's ran the lead and the clock from there.

With the victory Saint Mary's advances to the semifinals for a date with Gonzaga. Tip off is set for 6:00 PM Pacific on Monday.

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