Luckily my conscience got the better of me and I went anyway. But a strange thing happened. Not only did it take less than an hour to get to Pepperdine but the Titans held on for a very improbable win.
Here are the top reasons we won this game:
If the knock on him is that he shoots too much and dribbles too much all I have to say is keep shooting and keep dribbling. The guy was tough as nails. After he missed the first free throw with a three point lead with 11 seconds left any other freshman probably clanks one but he showed his true character with nothing but net.
Midway through the game when the Titans were struggling for baskets and no one wanted to shoot, LB stepped up in a big way. Not only that but he was the reason Pape Sow went 8 of 9 from the inside. Without an outside game, Pepperdine makes the double team into a triple team. Without LB, we lose this game, probably in a blowout.
In the battle of the freshman point guards, LB easily outplayed Pepperdine’s Shaun Davis. LB, with 22 points and 5 assists, was credited with two turnovers but at least one of those came late when Pape Sow did not get to a ball when he should have.
Titans in a Zone
We start the game in a man-to-man but with Pepperdine’s athleticism they score early and often. Not only did the Zone help contain Wave’s quick freshman guard Shaun Davis but it gave the Titans some confidence on the defensive end.
Pepperdine also went to a zone for the good part of the game, likely to try to contain Pape Sow, but the Titans were the better of the two in dissecting and moving the ball around.
Yes, nine guys played 10 minutes or more and just about everyone had good moments during this game but what I am referring to is the enthusiasm of the bench.
It’s a nice refreshing change when the players on bench actually tell us to stand up and cheer. Haven’t seen this in at least 10 years. King and Asprilla especially deserve mention, as they were responsible for getting the players to stand and cheer.
Don’t laugh. Two things here. One, with such a lopsided amount of calls going Pepperdine’s way in the first half (Titans did not shoot a free throw while Pepperdine was 10 for 13), the referee’s realized in the second half they could not get away with such blatant favoritism without possible repercussions from the Big West (The WCC and Big West do share refs, right? They looked very familar).
Two, maybe, just maybe, the bad calls and one-sidedness in the first half help motivate the Titans as they scored the last six points and got to within three at halftime.
During our biggest run of the game where we built up a 15 point lead, Anthony Bolton and Zakee Smith were playing exceptionally well. Bolton finally hit a three and Zakee ran the offense like the senior he is. More consistent play is needed by both but this is definitely a good sign.
And then there’s Pape Sow
Pape was having a very good game up until he decided the game was over with about 6 minutes still left to play. He was an absolute force inside and Pepperdine’s McGowan and company had no answer. He had two NBA plays and both resulted in him getting a foul.
The first was where he came from out of nowhere and reached at what seemed like five feet over the rim for a massive dunk attempt. He was called for over the back but Wave fans were in awe at that point.
Later, he received a nice alley-oop pass from LB which resulted in another super-sized dunk but was called for hanging on the rim in what has to be one of the worst calls of the game. Obvious dunk-envy by the referees. He was so high he had no choice but to hang on to avoid injury. Just one of many bad calls (or non-calls against Pepperdine) in the first half.
But his play in the last six minutes nearly cost us the game. For now, I will attribute this to conditioning. He is still not in game shape and that is understandable considering all he’s been through the past 7 months.
In summary, overall, we didn’t have one of our best games but we beat a top WCC team on their home court.
Let’s face it. When we get homered by the refs for more than half the game, have 20 turnovers, one of our best players (Pape) has a so-so game by his standards, and we somehow pull off a 4 point win on the road against a very good team, life is good.
Notebook: Still no solid prognosis on when and if Bron Groomes will be back. Best-case scenario according to Jason Levy was early January. Still and wait and see status.
David Warsaw has a high ankle sprain and apparently these take awhile to heal.
4 to 6 weeks is what Levy said so don’t be looking for him anytime soon.
He seems to walk fine but I guess he just can’t jump.