Pilots Crash in Malibu

Glen McGowan's 24 points and Alex Acker's 21 offset a career-high 33 from Portland's Pooh Jeter Saturday night in the Waves' 97-88 win that snapped an ugly five-game slide and evened their conference record at 1-1. <p><p> Acker pulled down eight rebounds and blocked five shots, and Derick Grubb registered his first career double-double, as the Waves offered a glimpse of what this season was supposed to look like.

Portland couldn't find any offense early, trailing 43-26 at the half. Jeter, in fact, had just six points early in the second half before taking complete control of his team's offense, scoring 27 points in just about every manner possible. The diminutive freshman guard is the sort of player a mid-major can build a program around.

Chase Griffin notched 13 points for the Waves, including 8-9 free throws that helped keep the Pilots at bay late. Grubb easily registered the best game of his promising young career with 12 points and 10 rebounds. Shaun Davis had an off shooting night but finished with five points and six assists.

The Fieldhouse crowd relentlessly booed Pilots guard Casey Frandsen after Frandsen committed a hard foul in transition, knocking down McGowan on McGowan's attempted layup. Though it's difficult to imagine the slight Frandsen doing much damage to McGowan, the crowd added needed energy to a game that lacked rhythm thanks to 76 combined free throw attempts.

Pepperdine finally found an opponent it could beat up inside. The team outrebounded Portland 49-35 and took the ball to the hoop regularly instead of settling for outside jumpers.

This week, the WCC has exhibited what a bright future it has in two games at Firestone Fieldhouse. Freshmen like Portland's Jeter, Gonzaga's Adam Morrison, and Pepperdine's Davis already rank among the conference's best and most productive players. Watching this group battle for four years will be great fun for fans.

The Waves hope to put the indignity of the recent losing streak behind them and build some positive momentum when they continue conference play on the road next weekend against lowly San Diego and always-tough Santa Clara.