The Pepperdine Waves ran out of steam late, falling to the UCLA Bruins 107-98 in three overtimes on Friday night.
UCLA Outlasts Pepperdine in Thrilling Three Overtime Game
The Bruins and Waves produced near parallel halves that led to the three extra periods. Pepperdine led 39-32 at the break, but UCLA outscored the Waves 38-31 in the second, forcing the first overtime.
Pepperdine superstar guard Colbey Ross hit a clutch runner with six seconds left to send the game into the second extra quarter of play. However, the Waves lost star forward Kessler Edwards to fouls earlier in the period.
In the second overtime, UCLA tied the game with a late free throw and then took control in the third. After two straight three-pointers by Tyger Campbell and Jules Bernard, the Bruins pulled away early and Pepperdine couldn’t muster enough magic to extend or win the game.
Pepperdine coach Lorenzo Romar said of his team’s performance, “It’s obviously a tough loss. We had our chances.”
The Bruins shot better than the Waves from the field, especially from behind the arc. UCLA hit 29.4% of their three-pointers. On the other side of the court, Pepperdine attempted a school-record 41 threes, hitting only 22% from long-distance. The game was very tight and even, and both Southern California schools battled hard for an important early-season matchup.
UCLA coach Mick Cronin praised his players, telling the Los Angeles Times, “They fought out a win against a good team.”
Ross on Big Stage
Ross, though already familiar to the West Coast Conference and west coast basketball fans, performed well on a big stage for the rest of the nation. He set the Pepperdine career points record with 1,809 after netting a game-high 33 against UCLA. He played all 55 minutes of the match, showcasing not only his stamina and toughness but his clutch play as well.
Ross is on the Naismith Trophy Watch List for College Player of the Year. He is also on the Bob Cousy Award Watch List for Best Men’s Collegiate Point Guard.
What was at stake
UCLA was in desperate need to pull off a key victory, especially against a good mid-major school. The Pac-12 has been disappointing and underachieving as of recent, and with only two teams ranked in the bottom tier of the Associated Press Top 25, early non-conference wins are important. Plus, after an ugly first loss to San Diego State, the team needed to bounce back quickly.
Pepperdine had an opportunity to show the nation they’re prepared to earn a tournament bid. With two superstars in Ross and Edwards and key role players who offer valuable production, goals are high for the Waves this season. A three-overtime loss to a ranked and storied program such as UCLA builds confidence and proves they can compete. However, it’s still a loss. Come March, the tournament committee must weigh if a close loss against a good opponent is a resume builder or burden. A win would have been a much better start for a squad that may be on the tournament bubble in four months.
It doesn’t get much easier for Pepperdine during conference play. San Francisco’s win over No. 4 Virginia on Friday shows the WCC is strong once again. With No. 1 Gonzaga playing beyond already-lofty expectations, BYU dominating their early-season matches, and Saint Mary’s finding their stride, the Waves will have to battle all year.
UCLA’s outlook, however, is bright. The Bruins were already ranked second in the Pac-12 preseason polls behind Oregon. With a budding superstar in Campbell and a strong leader in senior guard Chris Smith, UCLA has tremendous upside this season. They showed growth and grit in their second game this year and that is invaluable come March.
Two good schools played each other on Friday and it’s too bad the game had to end.
UCLA hosts Long Beach State on Monday night, while Pepperdine hosts San Jose State on Wednesday.
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