Luc Longley proved to be too big an obstacle for Pepperdine to overcome as the 7-2 center scored 18 points and shut down the Waves' inside game to lead New Mexico to an 86-69 National Invitation Tournament victory.
"I thought one of the most important factors in the game was Luc blocking those shots in the second half even with those fouls," Bliss said. "What that does is screw with your mind. I think that hurt Dexter Howard."
Howard, the Waves' second leading scorer this season, was 2-of-9 from the floor and was held to five points. Forward Tom Lewis, the Waves top scorer, was 6-of-15 for 18 points, and center Casey Crawford, who fouled out with 5:04 remaining, was 2-of-6 for seven points.
Longley blocked seven shots, five in the first half, and grabbed nine rebounds in 28 minutes of action.
Lobo guard Rob Robbins, who scored 10 points, and Pepperdine guard Marty Wilson were ejected for fighting with five seconds left in the first half. The fight started when Wilson ran hard into Robbins as the New Mexico guard was attempting a 3-point shot.
New Mexico officials said the fight won't affect Robbins' status for the Lobos quarterfinal game at home Thursday against St. Louis, 25-9. Pepperdine, making it to the NIT second round for the first time, fell to 20-13.
St. John's 76, Oklahoma St. 64
Jayson Williams scored 27 points and led St. John's to a victory over Oklahoma State.
Williams had two baskets in a 15-4 run early in the second half that put St. John's ahead 45-38 and added five points in a 10-0 burst that gave the Redmen their biggest lead, 74-58, with 1:03 remaining.
St. John's, 17-13, advanced to the quarterfinals against Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, on Thursday night. Oklahoma State finished 17-13.