Acker Makes Rebounding Irrelevant

Don't expect Alex Acker to wear jersey number 3 ever again. Acker, a redshirt freshman, had the breakout game everyone had been waiting for as he scored 19 points by shooting a perfect 6-6 from the floor, three from beyond the arc, and 4-4 from the free throw line as the Pepperdine Waves were able to stave off the Cal State Fullerton Titans in the waning minutes of the game for a 90-87 win.

Acker, who wore jersey number 15 for the game, forgot his old number three back in Malibu and was forced to take on the new uniform. A highly-touted player from whom the coaching staff expects big things, he had been averaging only two points during the first three games of the season. As someone from the basketball staff put it before the game, "He's been averaging his jersey number until now. Maybe this will change things."

But Acker wasn't the only one shooting the lights out for the Waves. As a team they shot 61% from the field and 56% from three-point range. They also made the most of their chances from the free-throw line as they hit on 14 of 15 attempts. In addition to Acker's contribution, the Waves got 20 points each from Boomer Brazzle and Jimmy Miggins, as well as eleven from Devin Montgomery. The Fullerton defense left much to be desired and Pepperdine took advantage.

The Titans also shot well from the field as they hit for 50% for the game, but they struggled mightily from distance making a paltry 5-22 from beyond the arc. Guard Ralphy Holmes, a transfer from Allan Hancock JC and one of six newcomers on the squad, led the game in scoring making 29 points on 29 shots and four free-throw attempts. Pape Sow, Fullerton's 6'10" presence in the middle, scored 15 points along with 12 rebounds. Zakee Smith contributed with 17 assists.

The Titans' three-point shooting seemed to be their downfall on this night, as they weren't able to take advantage of the 38-23 rebounding margin they held on Pepperdine. Once again the Waves did not put any bodies on opponents around the basket and were literally bowled over as the ball bounced into Titan hands. A pathetic showing, really, as the Waves were only able to manage two offensive rebounds to Fullerton's eighteen. If not for the torrid display of accuracy, it probably should have cost them the game. The scary thing is that Sow's cousin, 6'11" Babacar Camara, did not play due to injury. One can only imagine what the rebounding margin would have looked like with these two towers holding fort underneath the basket.

The Waves got out to an early lead as the Titans struggled with their shot but they recovered quickly and took a 21-20 advantage midway through the first half. The quick pace continued as Pepperdine was able to pull away, and as the last seconds of the first half came to a close, the Waves had time to set up one final shot. With about 20 seconds left on the clock Pepperdine spread out the floor beautifully as Miggins waited for about seven seconds to remain. Driving down the middle towards the basket he was swarmed by two defenders and kicked the ball out to the right corner for an undefended Brazzle, who shot a three that went through the hoop as the buzzer sounded. Pepperdine went to the locker room with a 50-39 lead.

In the second half a back and forth battle ensued, and the Waves maintained an 81-71 margin with about six minutes left in regulation. A comedy of errors took place over the course of the last few minutes that nearly cost Pepperdine the game and then subsequently saved it for them. On an inbounds pass after a made Titan basket, Miggins fed the ball to Montgomery. Looking dazed and confused, Montgomery tossed a soft bounce pass back right back at Miggins who, apparently also dazed and confused, watched as the ball bounced past him and finally rested at the feet of the official out of bounds. Turnover Waves. By the time the game clock was showing less than two minutes left, the Titans had managed a 14-6 run and cut the lead to 87-85. Shortly thereafter, during a dead ball situation, the five Waves players huddled in the middle of the court for a little motivational discussion. Unfortunately Fullerton had already inbounded the ball and a pass was flying to the one of the two wide open players underneath the Pepperdine basket. With assistant coach Gib Arnold nearly leaping out of his pants trying to get their attention, the five Waves players scrambled.

That is when the Titans decided to join the act. Virtually unguarded, Derick Andrew attempted the oddest-looking scoop shot from underneath the basket, missing wildly. The Waves were able to escape this mess as they grabbed one of the few rebounds they could to manage that day. After a missed shot by the Waves, Holmes had another opportunity to even up the score for the Titans as he drove towards the basket for an easy layup but missed badly. Acker and Brazzle then hit three out of four free throws to put the game out of reach. The officials allowed a dunk after the buzzer from the Titans' Bron Groomes for the final score.

What appeared to be a much more spirited Waves team than the one that played Long Beach State on Monday was highlighted by the breakout game for Acker and his new jersey number 15. The Waves take on their final Big West opponent for the season on Saturday when the UC Santa Barbara Gauchos visit Firestone Fieldhouse in Malibu for the annual "War on the Shore" contest. Game time is 6:00 pm and will be televised on Fox Sports West 2.

Notes:
Several NBA scouts were at tiny Titan Gym to check out Pape Sow, as well as Terrence Johnson. In the early part of the game it seemed their presence was felt by Sow, who missed a couple of put-back dunks, but eventually settled down and caused some real trouble for the Waves … The game started a half hour late because the women's game between Fullerton and Air Force was scheduled for a 5 pm start – far too close to the scheduled tip off of the men's game … Paul Westphal ripped into Miggins early in the game for his inability to pull down a rebound. Miggins responded by refusing to join the huddle during the next time out … Mike Westphal was literally bowled over by Pape Sow as his forearm and the rest of his 250 pound frame ran right through the Wave player's face as he stood on the baseline. Somehow the refs missed the call.