Braves shock Waves in OT, 95-81

Pepperdine viewed its opener at Bradley as an early test of focus. Coach Paul Westphal wanted to give players a taste of a large crowd of crazed Midwestern fans to get them used to hostile environments early on.<p><p> He got a little more than he bargained for.

Led by a mind-boggling 29 points and 20 rebounds from forward Danny Granger, Bradley hung right with favored Pepperdine for the full 40 minutes, putting themselves in position to pull the upset.

Pepperdine seemed to have the game in hand, leading 75-68 with 2:34 remaining following a 12-2 burst. But the Braves refused to die, battling back to force overtime with a 9-2 run of their own to end regulation.

In the overtime, the Waves never seemed to get past the shellshock of the position they were in. They managed just two Devin Montgomery free throws and a meaningless late jumper by Alex Acker, as they were humiliated in the extra period, 18-4.

The Braves got career nights from Granger and guard Phillip Gilbert, who poured in 28 points and 10 rebounds of his own.

Montgomery and Terrance Johnson paced Pepperdine with 20 points apiece. Jimmy Miggins had a nice all-around game with 16 points, six rebounds, and six assists. But the Waves shot just 41% from the field and 64% from the free-throw line.

The game seemed to turn on a series of highly improbable events. They hit a straight-away three-pointer from 30 feet to beat the shot clock buzzer; on two separate occasions, they missed two free throws, only to get the offensive rebound and convert a three-pointer. Montgomery, an 80% free throw shooter last season, missed the front end of a one-and-one opportunity with 75 seconds remaining, a trip to the line that might have sealed the game.

The game bore an eerie similarity to last season's early loss at UC Irvine. That game also went into overtime and could have been clinched in regulation by Montgomery free throws.

Speaking of trends that resemble last season, the Waves were outrebounded, 59-43. They played without still-hobbled Glen McGowan on this night; in 12 games without him last year, they were outrebounded by more than ten per game.

An early season wake-up call? The Waves will undoubtedly view it as such. But losing to the Braves will cripple the Waves' early-season RPI; it will take a lot of wins to overcome this loss in the computer-generated ranking system.

The Waves will have Thanksgiving week to dwell on this one, but they will need to put it behind them soon. On Saturday, November 30, they open their home season ... against, of all teams, UC Irvine.