MALIBU, Calif. — When BYU found itself down 11-2 in the opening minutes of its West Coast Conference game against Pepperdine on Saturday, it appeared that the Cougars hadn't quite put last Thursday's stunning home loss to Loyola Marymount behind them.
But coach Dave Rose called a quick timeout, his players settled down, and BYU scored 12 consecutive points to take its first lead, then built a 13-point advantage at halftime.
In the end, Brandon Davies poured in a career-high 29 points, and Noah Hartsock scored 20 — surpassing the 1,000-point plateau for his career — as the Cougars tamed the Waves, 77-64, at Firestone Fieldhouse.
"It's a great win," said Davies. "We always come out fired up coming off a loss. It was our biggest game to make sure that one loss didn't turn into two."
With the victory, BYU avoided back-to-back regular season losses for the first time since the 2008-09 season.
Pepperdine was eager to hand BYU another setback before a sellout crowd of 3,104.
"You have to give them a lot of credit. They came out with a lot of energy and they were really physical with us," Davies said. "We kind of backed away from it to start things off. As the game went on, we kind of matched their physicality and just got things going. ... We can't always start things off that way. Good teams will get us down like they did and it's tough to dig yourself out of a pit from the get-go."
"We got shots that we wanted early. We didn't make them," Rose said. "They came out aggressive and hit some big shots. Our guys were ready to play. Pepperdine came out with a real aggressive mindset. We thought they might want to control the tempo, but they were on full-out attack. They got the lead and our guys responded."
BYU did most of its damage inside — and at the free throw line. Fifteen of Davies' 29 points came from the charity stripe. The Cougars made 38 trips to the free throw line, knocking down 29, while Pepperdine was 8-of-12 in that category.
BYU, which was coming off a 2-for-25 shooting performance from 3-point territory against LMU, went 2-for-11 against Pepperdine. Charles Abouo, who finished with 15, points, hit both of those treys.
"We knew as a staff that this would have to be a grind-it-out game for us," Rose said. "We learned from the other night when we just kept firing up 3's and we couldn't make them, you have to figure out ways to win games sometimes when you're not making shots like you want to."
Since that loss to the Lions, Rose has simply wanted to see his team play harder.
"The most important thing is to compete, just to have a competitive spirit about our group on every possession, whether we score or not," he said. "We got a little discouraged the other night because we had so many possessions where we came up empty."
The Cougars came up empty early against the Waves, but Rose liked that fact that his team "stayed aggressive."
BYU closed the first half by outscoring Pepperdine 17-3, including a 9-0 run just before intermission.
The Cougars led by 13 at halftime and stretched that to 15 early in the second half before the Waves went on a 15-6 run to close the gap to four points, 48-44.
But BYU retook control of the game by consistently feeding the ball to Davies and Hartsock.
"We'll get back to where we'll find (3-point) shots," Rose said. "But tonight, through this tough stretch, I'm really proud of the guys because they were going inside, where we could get scores and get to the free throw line. That's a different way (to win)."
The Cougars improved to 17-5 overall and 6-2 in the WCC while Pepperdine fell to 7-12 and 1-7.
Waves forward Taylor Darby scored a team-high 21 points while center Corbin Moore chipped in 14.
BYU, which saw its five-game winning streak snapped last Thursday, is glad to have begun what it hopes is a new winning streak.
"I thought it was good for us. It was one of those tough, grind-it-out games," Hartsock said. "I thought we played with a lot of intensity and a lot of emotion out there today. That's what we talked about that we were lacking — that competitive spirit. I felt we brought it back tonight."
BYU takes a break from WCC play with a game at Virginia Tech next Wednesday (5 p.m., MT, ESPN3).
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