Seemingly in control of the game throughout, the Dons led 41-31 at the half and built the lead to as many as 20 in the second half.
The Waves, though, were not interested in mailing this one in.
Trailing 71-54 with 5:21 to play, the Waves kicked it into high gear and staged a monstrous rally. They outscored the Dons 20-5 over the next three minutes, drawing within 76-74. Fate seemed on their side when Tucker turned the ball over and gave the Waves a chance to tie.
But Shamell Stallworth stole the ball right back, and fed James Bayless for a back-breaking layup. USF (8-11, 3-3 WCC) would hit their free throws in the final two minutes, and the Waves (11-8, 3-3) managed just three more points as the rally fell short.
Presumably, short-handed Pepperdine expended all its energy in making the comeback, and had nothing left for the finish.
Terrance Johnson and Jimmy Miggins scored 18 points apiece for the Waves, while Boomer Brazzle registered 17 points and 11 rebounds.
In Malibu, the Lady Waves took the floor with a glistening 5-0 WCC record, 13-5 overall, having won 11 of their last 13 games. The Lady Dons limped into Firestone Fieldhouse at 6-13 overall and a last-place 1-4 in WCC play.
But when one team shoots under 30% all game long, you can pretty much throw records out the window.
In a sloppy game where no offensive rhythm was ever established, the teams combined for just seven points in the first eight minutes of the game. The pace picked up just a bit, but the halftime score of 24-17 was indicative of a half in which the Waves shot 20% (6-30) from the field, and just 30% (3-10) from the free throw line.
Though the second half was more competitive and well-played, the Waves were unable to overcome their horrific shooting and suffered their first Conference loss of the season.
Tamara McDonald of the Waves and Leanne Jensen of the Dons shared high-point honors with 16.
The Waves will try their luck with St. Mary's tonight. The men face former Waves assistant Randy Bennett's Gaels in Moraga, while the women try to start a new winning streak in Malibu. Both games tip off at 7pm.