Pepperdine stayed perfect at home this season by picking up its third straight win over BYU, and moved into third place in the WCC standings as a result.
It won't get the buzz that Gonzaga vs. Saint Mary's or Gonzaga vs. BYU, but the Waves and Cougars have quietly become one of the conference's best rivalries. All time BYU leads the series 9-8, but the teams split the series two years ago and the Waves swept BYU last season. Fortunately for fans the rematch is less than one week away, Saturday in Provo.
Tonight's game saw 17 ties, 18 lead changes and no lead greater than six points.
The defensively stout Waves controlled the game against the uptempo, high scoring Cougars until the final moments. BYU shot under 30% from the field in the first half and was held to just 28 points. By the time the Cougars managed to open things up a bit down the stretch the Waves were ready and got red hot.
Jett Raines, who scored 14 of his 18 points in the second half, went to work down low midway through the second. With BYU relentlessly doubling Stacy Davis that left freshman Zac Seljaas to guard the senior Raines and he took full advantage.
Kyle Collinsworth, who did not record a triple-double tonight, threw down a fastbreak slam with 8:02 to play that gave BYU a 51-48 lead. But that sparked a 10-1 run by the Waves over just two minutes. It was nearly an 11-1 run but Nick Emery (17 points) fouled Kameron Edwards to stop a dunk. With the Waves rolling a thunderous dunk at that point would've blown the roof off of Firestone Fieldhouse.
BYU answered with a run of their own to stay in the game. Over 58 seconds the Cougars scored seven points and reclaimed the lead, 59-58, with four minutes to play.
After a calm, steady game the final minutes were up and down at a blistering pace. That style should favor BYU but the Waves had come to play. Pepperdine got stops on the defensive end — Nick Emery driving into Amadi Udenyi with the game hanging in the balance likely was not in the game plan — while Raines and Lamond Murray (20 points) knocked down jumpers.
But the Cougars hung around. Chase Fischer hit two free throws to make it a two point game with 31 seconds to play.
In foul to stop the clock territory BYU tried to trade free throws for three pointers. The sharpshooting Fischer let one fly but 5-foot-11 Jeremy Major rose barely high enough to graze the ball and block the shot. It fell limply into the arms of Stacy Davis, who was immediately fouled. He hit both, his 27th and 28th straight from the line. On pace to be Pepperdine's all-time leading scorer, Davis set the schools consecutive free throw record with those two shots.
With the win the Waves improve to 13-7 (6-3) on the season, remain a perfect 9-0 at home (where they have wins over both Saint Mary's and BYU) and have defeated BYU four consecutive times. The Waves and Cougars, now 14-7 (5-3), switch places in the standings with Pepperdine half a game ahead of the Cougars for third place.