Free throws, rebounding cost Pepperdine at UCLA

Throughout history, there have been precious few basketball seasons in which Pepperdine could visit UCLA boasting a better record, favored by the oddsmakers, and expecting to win. <p><p> This was one of those years. <p><p> But at the final buzzer, this game ended the way 14 of the previous 18 matchups had: with the dejected Waves watching the Bruins celebrate a victory.

Jordan Farmar scored 21 of his 25 points in the second half, including the go-ahead basket with 4.7 seconds to play, as the Bruins answered a Pepperdine rally with one of their own to earn a hard-fought 85-83 win on Saturday afternoon.

With the Waves leading 83-81, Farmar was fouled by Marvin Lea and calmly sank both free throws with 9.9 seconds left. After a time out, Pepperdine's Yakhouba Diawara threw the ensuing inbounds pass off the fingertips of Kingsley Costain and out of bounds, giving the Bruins the ball with a chance for the win.

Farmar, who scored nine of the Bruins' last 11 points, nailed a driving layup for the decisive basket. Alex Acker's desperation 35-footer clanked off the front rim as time expired, after Acker had to drive the length of the court and couldn't get a good look.

Pepperdine had taken the brief 83-81 lead on a follow-tip by Diawara.

Trailing 42-36 at the break, Pepperdine came out with tremendous intensity in the second half, finally grabbing its first lead of the afternoon at 60-58 on a layup by Glen McGowan. They would extend their lead to as many as seven points, but the shorthanded Bruins were not to be denied.

Already missing Cedric Bozeman for the season, the Bruins were playing without their leading scorer, Dijon Thompson, who had aggravated a hand injury in their previous game against Boston College. As a result, they started three freshmen in Farmar, Arron Afflalo, and Josh Shipp.

UCLA came out with the kind of energy that young, depleted teams often do, racing to a 19-6 lead in the opening minutes. The Bruins were simply outhustling the Waves to every loose ball and grabbing every offensive rebound.

Seeing the game slip away, Pepperdine coach Paul Westphal inserted Kingsley Costain (his quickest player), Robert Turner (his most athletic) and Derick Grubb (his biggest) to stem the tide. The strategy worked beautifully, as the Waves fought their way back to within one point before falling down by six at the break.

Farmar's impressive showing was one of many standout performances. Shipp finished with 15 points and 12 rebounds. For the Waves, Glen McGowan scored 24 points and Acker 19.

This game, however, was not lost on a fluke play at the end. The Waves shot only 8-15 from the free throw line. And last year's bug-a-boo returned with a vengeance, as they were outrebounded 41-23.

Somewhat marring a game that was extremely well-played by all parties was some incomprehensible officiating, punctuated by a technical foul on McGowan for hanging on the rim on a play that was no different than any other dunk you'll ever see.

Overall, the Waves have to be pleased with a 7-2 start to the season. But all things considered, coming oh-so-close in Pauley Pavilion is not the moral victory it once was. The Waves know they have a top-notch team and will continue to show that as their nonconference travel schedule takes them to Illinois, Northern California, and New Mexico in the coming weeks.