MALIBU, Calif. – Tied at 46 with just over two minutes to go, Pepperdine was able to outlast Utah Valley University down the stretch, winning 58-53 on Saturday at Firestone Fieldhouse.
Deadlocked for the ninth time on the night at 46-46, Brendan Lane put the Waves (4-1) up for good with a bucket, and Jeremy Major extended it to a four-point lead a possession later.
Despite a late push that included a Hayes Garrity layup and three, the Waves converted on 8-for-9 free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
The Wolverines (2-3) got a game-high 13 points from Zach Nelson, 12 from Keawe Enos and 10 from Ben Aird. Lane finished with 11 points and 10 rebounds to lead Pepperdine. Stacy Davis, who entered as the West Coast Conference’s leading scorer with nearly 23 points per game, finished with just seven, but he grabbed nine boards and blocked two key shots down the stretch.
“Give Pepperdine a lot of credit. They defended hard and we weren’t very effective on the offensive end,” UVU head coach Dick Hunsaker said. “However, I was very happy with the effort and the competitive spirit and fight that we played with. It’s very difficult to lose, but we didn’t quite make the plays and made some errors down the stretch that cost us.”
In the first half, Bruneel and Nelson connected on 3-pointers from the corner in an early 8-0 spurt to give UVU a 10-5 lead. From there, the rest of the first half saw mini runs from both teams. The Wolverines led by as much as six in the half and did not trail in the half after that early run.
Nelson had nine points at the break to lead all scorers, and UVU held a slim, 24-22 advantage at the break.
After Bruneel scored the first bucket of the second half to give Utah Valley a 26-22 lead, Pepperdine ran off seven-straight points, taking its first lead since the 17 minute mark of the first half.
The teams continued trading punches; a Bruneel dunk and two free throws from Aird put UVU back in front before Austin Mills hit a three to put the Waves back on top.
Enos hit the second of two straight 3-pointers for the Wolverines, knotting the game at 36-36 - the seventh tie of the game - with 9:29 to go. With the game tied 37-37, Nelson got back-to-back layups, the first on a feed from Aird, to put the Wolverines up four, 41-37.
The Wolverines turned it over just six times on the night, while turning 15 Pepperdine turnovers into 14 points. Aird pulled down eight rebounds and also had three steals for the Wolverines.
Utah Valley will hit the road again the day after Thanksgiving and play at Tennessee Tech on Saturday, Nov. 30, before closing out a five-game road swing at South Dakota on Monday, Dec. 2.
Clint Burgi is the assistant athletic director for sports information at Utah Valley University. For more information on Wolverine athletics, visit WolverineGreen.com.