MALIBU, Calif. – Washington State began its most challenging part of pre-conference play by losing to one of the nation’s weakest Division I programs on Friday night.
Pepperdine – which has lost at least 20 games in six of the past seven seasons – overcame an eight-point deficit in the final 51/2 minutes of regulation to defeat the Cougars in overtime, 58-56, at Firestone Fieldhouse.
WSU (2-1) now travels to Kansas City, Mo. to face perennial-power Kansas on Monday in the CBE Hall of Fame Classic’s championship round. The Cougars will play either Saint Louis or Texas A&M on Tuesday.
An ill Brock Motum finished with 15 points and seven rebounds. Royce Wooldridge added 11 points and Mike Ladd had 10 points and tied a career best with 13 rebounds for WSU.
But WSU shot 40.4 percent and committed 20 turnovers. Motum and Woolridge made five turnovers apiece.
“Their quickness bothered us, at times,” coach Ken Bone said. “We were not able to attack and be successful inside. Every time we tried to put the ball on the floor, we came up empty-handed.”
Pepperdine (1-2) even forced the Cougars to sabotage their own disciplined offense with shot-clock violations.
“In the first half, we took quick shots,” Bone said. “So part of our plan in the second half was to share the ball better and try to get better shots with maybe 15 or 10 seconds on the shot clock.
“There were a couple of times when it got down to five, even to 10 and we didn’t really execute. Pretty soon, it was down to two or one and we just had to shoot.”
WSU held a 50-42 lead with 5:24 left in regulation but the Waves’ Lorne Jackson made successive 3-point shots within 46 seconds to narrow the deficit to 50-48 with 2:49 remaining.
Bone considered those baskets the turning point. “That gave them a lot of momentum and a lot of energy,” he said.
Ladd tried to win the game with a layup, but Jackson blocked the shot with 4.5 seconds to go.
WSU built a 55-50 overtime advantage that Pepperdine trimmed to 56-55 with 1:03 to play. Ladd had an opportunity to extend the lead but missed two free throws at 26.8 seconds.
Jordan Baker secured the rebound and passed to Jackson – who dribbled unmolested through the lane for a layup that put Pepperdine ahead, 57-56, with 12.2 seconds left, it’s first lead since 2:11 into the game.
WSU had one more chance. But after the Cougars inbounded the ball to Woolridge at midcourt, Baker stole the ball. DaVonte Lacy fouled Baker, who made one of two foul shots with four-tenths of a second left.