Flyers Soar Past Waves in Opener, 90-77

Pepperdine and Dayton, two of the most successful yet unheralded programs in the country the past several seasons, initiated a new cross-country rivalry Friday night in the season opener for both teams. <p><p> The hard-fought game was never out of reach for the Waves, but it was the first 12 minutes of the game that proved the difference on this night as Pepperdine never tasted the lead.

The Flyers came out firing on all cylinders. Sean Finn scored nine of his 19 points during an opening 12 minutes that saw Dayton jump to a 30-14 lead. The Waves settled down after that and got back within eight, but the lead expanded back to 13 again by halftime.

In the second half, the Waves hacked and slashed at the Flyers' lead and on numerous occasions, it seemed the momentum had swung in the home team's favor. But the closest the Waves would get was 65-61 with 5:24 to play.

The key to Dayton's success was superb balance offensively. Ramod Marshall led the way with 21 points. Finn finished with 19 and eight rebounds. Jones added 12 and eight boards, while Monty Scott and Warren Williams chipped in 11 points apiece.

The Waves got stellar performances from Juniors Terrance Johnson and Glen McGowan. Each scored 26 points, and the duo combined to shoot 18-31 from the field (58%). Johnson alone hit seven three-pointers, six of them in the second half to keep the game competitive.

But their teammates couldn't get it going offensively. The other six Waves who saw action combined for 25 total points on 10-35 shooting (29%).

The game marked the Pepperdine debut of Jesse Pinegar, Shaun Davis, and Marvin Lea. Pinegar missed his first seven shots, mostly due to his size disadvantage matched up with the 7'0 Finn. But the BYU transfer bounced back to hit his final three shots, two from three-point range, and led the Waves in rebounds. Lea played sparingly and defended well.

Davis showed why head coach Paul Westphal started him in his first collegiate game. Though he shot just 2-9, he logged nine assists, six rebounds, and just three turnovers as the primary ballhandler. He proved to be the type of tempo-setting point guard the team lacked when Devin Montgomery's injury cost him his senior season last year. Davis' ability to break down his man, get into the middle of the offense, and kick it out to open shooters was responsible in large part for Johnson's stellar shooting night. Davis adds a dimension of speed and court vision to the team that the Waves have not seen in many years.

Dayton simply knows how to win. When Finn wasn't shooting hooks over everyone down low, Marshall, Williams, and Jones were slashing into the lane and getting fouled. On numerous occasions, the Waves played outstanding defense for an entire possession, only to see a Flyer exploit the tiniest of opportunities and convert. The Flyers outrebounded the Waves 40-30 and made 34 of 41 free throws, compared to just 10-15 at the stripe for their hosts.

The schedule demands that the Waves quickly put this one behind them. Their next two games feature opponents from one of the powerhouse conferences in the nation, as the Big 12's Colorado Buffaloes visit Firestone Fieldhouse on Monday, and Pepperdine travels to Oklahoma State next Saturday.