With scoring leaders Jimmy Miggins and Terrance Johnson struggling, and the Waves playing poor transition defense, coach Paul Westphal inserted his son Mike into the game to provide a spark.
That he did. And more.
Portland took its biggest lead at 28-21, but riding the crowd support for Mike Westphal, the Waves kicked it in gear and closed the half on a 20-3 run, capped by a buzzer-beating, off-balance 19-footer by Westphal that sent the Waves into the locker room with a 41-31 edge and tons of momentum.
Portland opened the second half with five straight points, but after that, the Waves extended to a double-digit lead. Portland got within six on a couple of occasions, but Pepperdine was not about to let its season slip away with a loss to the conference's last-place team.
Boomer Brazzle came through with a double-double of 12 points and 11 rebounds. Fellow all-conference forward Miggins finished with 14 points and eight rebounds. Off the bench, Will Kimble had 10 points and five rebounds, and Westphal and Craig Lewis notched seven points apiece.
Portland actually had a reasonable chance at an upset, but committed 26 turnovers, the vast majority of which were unforced miscommunications on passes. As if to signal what was to come, the Pilots won the opening tip and raced downcourt for an uncontested layup, only to watch Ross Jorguson bounce the ball off his foot and out of bounds.
Casey Frandsen, among the conference's highest scorers and most underrated players, finished with 20 points for the Pilots. Coky Rochin, the aforementioned "single inside force," had eleven.
The Waves hardly fared much better, committing 20 turnovers of their own, mostly on traveling and carrying calls that had coaches and fans screaming at the referees.
The teams were not the only ones having an off day -- the game was poorly officiated at both ends. But Portland simply does not have the weapons to keep up with Pepperdine, so officiating really had little hand in the outcome.
The Waves benefit from the conference's lone upset. Instead of playing home team San Diego, who scored a remarkable 69-67 win at the buzzer over San Francisco, Pepperdine will face #6 St. Mary's, a 72-65 upset winner in overtime over #3 seed Santa Clara.
Gonzaga defeated Loyola Marymount, 82-64, in the day's first game. The Bulldogs face San Diego in Sunday's first semifinal at 6:30 pm.
Pepperdine takes on former Wave assistant Randy Bennett and his Gaels in the nightcap.