The Gaels have the West Coast Conference's third most efficient offense, the Waves have the third most efficient defense. Something had to give today in Moraga, Calif., where the Gaels had won more than 90% of their games over the past eight seasons.
Six first half threes, on nine attempts, gave the Gaels 11 point leads on two occasions. It sure looked like the Gaels would come out victorious at home. Pepperdine's strength is their second-best-in-the-nation three point defense.
Marty Wilson's Waves didn't give up, though, and found a way to shut down the Gaels from deep before it was too late.
Leading the Waves to victory tonight was sophomore point guard Amadi Udenyi. After missing three games with a hamstring injury Udenyi has struggled to return to form. He had four assists and 11 points on 5-7 shooting today against the Gaels.
Udenyi scored just three points over the previous three games.
While the Waves watched their point guard return to form from injury, the Gaels saw theirs go down with a leg injury of his own. Late in the first half Aaron Bright drove into the lane, put up a floater and landed awkwardly on his right ankle. It bent in a way the ankle is not meant to bend.
Bright did not return to the game. Without him, despite not putting up big stats, the Gaels weren't the same.
The Waves closed the half on an 8-0 run to pull within five points of the Gaels. Their defense stepped up big, holding Saint Mary's to just 2-8 from deep in the second half.
The final 20 minutes were completely different than the first.
Stacy Davis came to life, the Waves shot 61% from the field and timely shots stopped the kind of runs Saint Mary's went on in the first half from happening in the second.
With three minutes remaining the Waves tied the game at 59. They would take the lead moments later and never looked back. Meanwhile, Desmond Simmons fouled out of the game. The Gaels had lost key cogs on the perimeter and down low. Pepperdine took advantage.
Some of the most oddly efficient offense a team can play took the form of air-balled three pointers from Amadi Udenyi and Shawn Olden. Both shots found their way into the basket, but only after falling into the hands of Stacy Davis and Lamond Murray Jr. respectively.
Pepperdine improves to 14-8 (7-4) on the season. The waves were desperate for a win after losing three of their previous five games. With Amadi Udenyi back in the fold this is much more like the team that upset BYU in Provo and came three points shy of taking down Gonzaga than the team that lost to Santa Clara and San Francisco.
Saint Mary's falls to 17-5 (9-2) on the season. Brad Waldow had another great game for the Gaels, leading all scorers with 25 points.