Live by the Three, Die by the Two

Coming off an impressive 98-point explosion in San Diego Thursday, Pepperdine faced Santa Clara with a chance to get back over .500 in Conference play, and head into the stretch run of the season with a top-four WCC finish firmly in their grasp. <p> But as often happens to teams who rely on streak shooting, the Waves were unable to find their rhythm on a gloomy Sunday afternoon in the Bay Area, and the Broncos took advantage of their size and muscle up front to down the Waves, 73-61.

In San Diego, the Waves had shot a remarkable 59% from the field and made 16 three-pointers, one short of a school record. But Sunday in Santa Clara, not even layups and short jumpers were falling with any consistency. The Waves managed just a dismal 37% for the game.

Immune to the shooting woes were Terrance Johnson and Alex Acker. The duo of 6'5 shooting guards combined for 37 of the Waves' 61 points; Johnson made six threes to finish with 21 of his own.

Jimmy Miggins and Boomer Brazzle represented the Waves' utter ineptitude inside, though. They combined for a 4-17 shooting performance and just 10 points.

The Broncos (12-11, 3-7 WCC) were predictably led by their inside force, notably Jim Howell with 19 points and eight boards, and Ethan Rohde's eight points and ten rebounds. Santa Clara utterly dominated the boards, 43-29, and got a great deal of their offense on second-chance points, thanks to their 12 offensive rebouds.

The Waves (13-11, 5-6) again used just seven players, leaving two of their big men, freshman centers Derick Grubb and David Patten, out of the rotation. It's difficult to say whether their presence might have kept the Waves in the rebounding battle, but it was clear the Waves were simply outmuscled on this day, and unlike in San Diego, did not shoot well enough to cover for it. Using such a short bench, the Waves' bench was outscored 35-5 by its Bronco counterparts.

The loss drops the Waves into 5th place in the WCC, although they still have home games with the teams right in front of them, San Francisco and St. Mary's.

It has been a very tough year for both teams. The Waves are missing three of their top seven players in PG Devin Montgomery, PF Glen McGowan, and C Will Kimble. They'll get no sympathy from the Broncos, though, who lost their best player, PG Kyle Bailey, for the year, and were unable to acquire an extra injury-exemption year of eligibility for high-scoring forward Steve Ross.

Without these five players, points were in short supply on both ends, but Santa Clara's knack for getting second and third shots wore the Waves down in the end.

The Waves finish WCC play with three home games, starting with this weekend's renewal of their long-time series with crosstown rival Loyola Marymount. The Waves beat the Lions in Westchester, 70-67, three weeks ago; however, LMU has since gone 3-3, including the WCC's upset of the year over Gonzaga.