Waves gain double #1 seed in WCC tournament

Devin Montgomery scored a career-high 26 points, and his perfect three-point shooting night helped the Waves drain a team-record 17 threes en route to an <url=http://pepperdine.TheInsiders.com/2/37823.html>annihilation of Santa Clara</url>, 96-58, in the men's regular-season finale, to join the Lady Waves as top seeds in next weekend's postseason tournament in San Diego.<p><p> With the win, the Waves reached a number of milestones that will determine their postseason fate.

Most importantly, the Waves clinched a tie for the regular-season West Coast Conference title, an impressive feat that has been overlooked amid discussion of coin flips, NCAA tournament prospects, and the possible tournament final rubber match with Gonzaga. The Waves were picked between fourth and sixth in the preseason polls, but first-year coach Paul Westphal's squad managed a share of the title with highly touted Gonzaga, ranked #7 in the nation and once considered a shoo-in for an uncontested run through the WCC.

Second, the Waves reached 20 regular-season wins. That number means a lot in the minds of the NCAA selection committee, and considering the quality wins the Waves have along the way -- USC, UCLA, Gonzaga, and BYU -- the 20-win total should be enough to get the Waves into March Madness regardless of what happens at the WCC tourney.

Third, a coin flip determined the seedings of the WCC tourney at Jenny Craig Pavilion on the campus of the University of San Diego, and the Waves got the nod, so they will head into the event as the #1 seed. They draw Portland in the first round, with tipoff scheduled for 2:30 pm Saturday.

It's possible that in the second round, the Waves could face tournament host San Diego, who took the Waves to double overtime in the same building in January -- a scenario many Waves fans dread. But it's a big "if."

The Toreros enter as the #5 seed, facing 4th-seeded San Francisco in the opening round. Though the Dons are struggling without point guard LyRyan Russell, they do have the conference's top frontcourt player in Darrell Tucker, and will be looking to avenge a couple of humiliating losses to USD, both in the first round of last year's tournament, and last week at Jenny Craig.

Also, if sixth-seeded St. Mary's were to upset Santa Clara, the teams would be re-seeded and the Waves would draw the Gaels, while Gonzaga would face the winner of USF-USD. All of which assumes that neither Pepperdine or Gonzaga loses its first round game. In other words ... the possibilities are too numerous to be too concerned with whom the Waves will face in the second round. And it's a fair assumption that Westphal will be spending countless hours of this week's spring break reminding his troops not to overlook the Pilots in the opener.

Meanwhile, the Pepperdine women lost a tough 69-65 decision to Santa Clara Saturday, but had already clinched the conference championship with an identical record to the men's 20-7 overall mark, and 11-3 in WCC play. Head Coach Mark Trakh will be looking to secure his first WCC tournament title and second NCAA tournament appearance this weekend.

Unlike their male counterparts, the women of Gonzaga brought up the rear in the WCC. The 8th-seeded Lady Zags will face the Lady Waves at noon on Thursday. Pepperdine's quest continues (hopefully) on Friday night and Sunday afternoon.

Tournament tickets are available through Pepperdine's Athletic Department, or through San Diego's.