MALIBU, Calif. — Josh Heytvelt doesn’t need to hit the beach to enjoy his visits to Pepperdine.
Gonzaga’s big man had another big game in Malibu, getting 25 points and nine rebounds to help the 23rd-ranked Bulldogs beat Pepperdine 83-69 on Thursday night.
Heytvelt was two points shy of his career-high, a mark he previously set against Pepperdine. He scored the first nine points of the game and made his first five field goals — that after getting six points in his last game.
“Before the game, it was one of those things where I said, ’I don’t know why I didn’t come here because I always seem to have decent games (here) and then we end up winning most of the games when we come here,” said Heytvelt, from Washington state. “I don’t know if it’s the atmosphere or the heat, but I think I enjoy playing here.”
Matt Bouldin added 14 points and a career-high 10 assists for the Zags (12-4, 4-0 West Coast Conference).
After beating its first three league opponents by an average of 34.3 points, the Bulldogs seemed primed for another blowout early on.
Gonzaga scored the first 17 points and made six of its first eight field goals before Pepperdine scored its first basket when Mychel Thompson made a jumper with 13:51 left in the first half.
“We had a great start to the game and played really, really well,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We were crisp on offense and really solid on defense, and then they made some plays and got going and that happens on the road.”
Pepperdine freshman Keion Bell had 19 points and a career-high 12 rebounds for the first double-double of his career and Thompson had 14 points for the Waves (4-16, 1-3).
The Zags made 6-of-11 3-pointers in the first half and had 12 assists to take a 45-26 lead at the break.
But the Waves opened the second half with a 9-0 run and kept the Bulldogs on their toes during several stretches late in the second half.
Trailing 76-54, Mike Hornbuckle made two 3-pointers during a 11-2 run that prompted the students to chant, “Yes We Can!”
“Towards the end, it was a little frustrating, they got to the hoop, they were grabbing rebounds, they got the 50-50 balls,” Heytvelt said.
But each time Pepperdine chipped away, the Zags responded with Bouldin directing the charge.
“We had to make a couple plays to hold them off because they were closing the gap,” Few said. “Several times Bouldin stepped up and played really good, he made good plays and made big shots.”