Tuesday, February 24, 2009


Men's Hoops Hosts Saint Mary's on FSN West
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Release: 02/24/2009

Pepperdine Men's Basketball Game Notes
UPCOMING — The regular season comes to an end at home for the Pepperdine men’s basketball team, which hosts Saint Mary’s and San Francisco this week. Thursday’s game against the Gaels will be shown on FSN West. It may be a long shot, but with two victories and some help, the Waves could finish in fourth place in the West Coast Conference and earn a first-round bye at the upcoming WCC Tournament. Picked to finish eighth, Pepperdine can end up no worse than in sixth place. Kenpom.com rates the Waves as having the eighth least-experienced team in the country, and freshmen and sophomores are combining for more than 83% of the points.
GAME #29 — Thursday (Feb. 26) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine (8-20, 5-7, tied for fifth place) vs. Saint Mary’s (22-5, 8-4, third place) at 7:30 p.m.
GAME #30 — Saturday (Feb. 28) at Firestone Fieldhouse: Pepperdine vs. San Francisco (10-17, 2-10, seventh place) at 2 p.m. Pepperdine’s three seniors will be honored prior to the game. Pepperdine’s top-ranked men’s volleyball team plays later in the evening, with a match against UC Santa Barbara at 7 p.m.
ON THE WEB — Subscribers to "Wave Casts" can catch all Pepperdine men’s basketball games on the internet at www.pepperdinesports.com. Veteran play-by-play man Al Epstein, now in his 24th season with the Waves, is behind the microphone. Non-televised home games will have live audio and video, while road games and home TV games will be audio only. Go to the Pepperdine Athletics website and look for the WaveCasts link. An annual pass costs $69.95 and monthly subscriptions are also available. Live statistics will be available for all home matches free of charge, and links are provided to the home team’s website when the Waves are on the road.
ON TELEVISION — The Pepperdine-Saint Mary’s game will be televised live by FSN West. Paul Sunderland and Sean Farnham will call the game.
TICKETS — Men’s basketball single-game tickets cost $15 (lower reserved), $12 (upper reserved), $10 (adult general admission) or $5 (children general admission). Call (866) WAVE-TIX to purchase tickets.
PROMOTIONS — Gray Pepperdine T-shirts will be given to the first 100 students at Thursday’s basketball game ... Pepperdine’s Delta Delta Delta sorority will be soliciting funds for St. Jude’s Children’s Hospital on Thursday ... Pepperdine mini-pennants will be given to the first 300 fans on Saturday.
SAINT MARY’S — Pepperdine is 68-51 all-time against Saint Mary’s, including a loss in Moraga in January. The Gaels have won 10 of the last 11 meetings. The lone Pepperdine win in that stretch was in Moraga in 2007. The last home win came in 2004. Tom Asbury went 14-1 against Saint Mary’s in his first go-round as Pepperdine’s head coach. Saint Mary’s head coach Randy Bennett and director of operations Mark Campbell are former Pepperdine assistants.
LAST TIME VS. SAINT MARY’S — Back on Jan. 17 ... A bad start doomed Pepperdine, and it only got worse from there in a 96-46 loss at Saint Mary’s. Keion Bell (20 points) and Mychel Thompson (11 points) scored 31 of Pepperdine’s 46 points, but the rest of the squad shot 5-for-31. The Waves fell behind 16-1 and 28-3 before a 12-0 run cut the lead to 28-15. The Gaels made 15 three-pointers and had a 50.8% to 32.8% shooting edge.
SAN FRANCISCO — Pepperdine is 46-64 all-time against San Francisco. The Waves’ win at USF in January ended a six-game losing streak in the series. The last Pepperdine home victory came in 2005. Tom Asbury went 13-3 against the Dons in his first stint as head coach. USF junior forward Blake Wallace played for the Waves as a freshman.
LAST TIME VS. SAN FRANCISCO — Back on Jan. 29 ... Keion Bell scored a career-high 32 points on 13-for-14 shooting to lead Pepperdine to its first road victory of the season and a 69-67 win at San Francisco. The Waves led nearly the entire contest. Bell hit his first nine shots of the game and sank all four of his three-pointers. Pepperdine built a 16-3 lead early and was ahead 31-30 at halftime. The Dons took a couple of one-point leads midway through the second half, but Bell’s three-point play with 12:33 to go put the Waves ahead to stay at 47-45. Although USF cut into Pepperdine’s lead at the end, the Dons never had a chance to tie the game or take the lead. Ryan Holmes played his best game since returning from a knee injury, getting nine points and five assists in 23 minutes.
LAST GAMEKeion Bell pushed his streak of scoring in double-figures to 10 games and recorded his fourth double-double of the season, but the visiting Pepperdine men’s basketball team lost at then-#17 Gonzaga, 92-58, on Saturday (Feb. 21). The Bulldogs won their 16th straight in the series and clinched their ninth consecutive WCC regular-season title. Bell had team highs of 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mike Hornbuckle also reached double-figures as he sank four three-pointers, good for 12 points. Pepperdine took its only lead at 2-0 but the Bulldogs scored the next 10 points and led 48-25 at halftime. The Waves were outshot 51.5% to 27.6%.
KEION BELL — A strong candidate for WCC Freshman of the Year honors, Keion Bell has proven himself as a rising star in the conference. He is averaging team bests of 12.8 points overall (13th in the WCC and third among conference freshmen) and 15.8 points in conference play (sixth in the WCC, second among freshmen). He has scored in double-figures in 11 of 12 conference games, and has reached double-figures in 10 straight games (17.1 ppg in that time). He nearly set or tied two school records in the win at San Francisco on Jan. 29. His 32 points were two shy of the Pepperdine freshman record and his 13-for-14 shooting was one field goal made short of the single-game record for field-goal percentage. Though he stands just 6-foot-3, Bell has four double-doubles in conference play, and his 6.7 rebounds per conference game leads the team and is ninth in the WCC (second among freshmen).
RYAN HOLMES — There’s a correlation between Pepperdine’s rapid improvement in recent weeks and the return to form by senior point guard Ryan Holmes. He missed 12 non-conference games with a knee sprain, and the Waves missed his steady play and leadership by going 2-10 without him in the lineup. Even as he tried to return from the injury, Holmes only collected a total of two points, three rebounds and three assists in his first five games back on the court. But in Pepperdine’s last four victories, Holmes averaged 12.0 points and 4.8 assists.
GOOD NEWS — The return of Tom Asbury and his staff and the immediate impact they have made has led to some notable successes that haven’t been seen here in a while ... Pepperdine is assured of its most conference wins since at least 2005, when the team had six victories ... The last time the Waves were at .500 or better at the 10-game mark of WCC play was 2004 ... Pepperdine’s three-game winning streak was its first in conference play since February 2004 ... With home wins over Santa Clara and San Diego, Pepperdine had its first two-game weekend sweep in WCC action since January 2005.
OTHER SEASON NOTABLES — The win over Cal State Monterey Bay gave the Waves their first victory in a season opener since 2001-02 ... Veteran broadcaster Al Epstein called his 700th consecutive Pepperdine men’s basketball broadcast vs. Pacific on Dec. 13 ... The game at Cal State Northridge on Dec. 18 was the 2,000th in program history ... The Waves beat Loyola Marymount in Firestone Fieldhouse for the 11th consecutive time ... Pepperdine won its conference opener (vs. LMU) for the first time since 2005 ... The season sweep of LMU was Pepperdine’s third in a row, and the Waves have now won 22 of the last 24 meetings ... The Waves ended a nine-game losing streak to San Diego and a six-game streak to San Francisco.
REBOUNDING — An area that needed to improve, and has, is rebounding. Though the Waves have a rebound margin of -1.0 for the season, that’s better than the -4.4 and -12.3 of the previous two seasons. Over 12 conference games, the Waves have either outrebounded or equalled the opponent six times. Pepperdine is #2 in the WCC in offensive rebounds (12.68 per game).
CLOSE GAMES — Pepperdine has improved to 6-5 in games decided by nine or fewer points (4-2 in games decided by five or fewer points).
COMEBACKS — Three of Pepperdine’s victories have come after rallying from double-digit deficits. The Waves trailed by 11 points in the first half vs. Coppin State, by 15 points early in the second half vs. Santa Clara (as well as by eight points with four minutes remaining) and by 11 points in the first half vs. San Diego.
ROTATION — Of the 12 players that saw action at Gonzaga, nine were freshmen or sophomores and seven weren’t on the roster last year. Pepperdine has been starting three freshmen, a sophomore and a senior lately. Prior to that, the Waves had started four freshmen and one sophomore for nine straight games. The Waves have played five freshmen on the court at one time on an occasional basis.
FRESHMAN SCORING — Last year, freshmen scored 63.6% of Pepperdine’s points. It’s virtually assured that the new group of freshmen will lead the way in 2008-09 as well. Right now they account for 57.5% of the scoring, compared to 25.9% by the sophomores and 16.6% by the seniors. The two games where freshmen contributed the most were at Hawaii and vs. Portland (76%). The freshmen have been the highest-scoring class in all but two games.
STAT LEADERS — In the WCC, Keion Bell is fourth in steals (1.61), 11th in free throw percentage (.725) and 13th in scoring (12.8) ... Taylor Darby is ninth in rebounding (6.4) ... Andy Shannon is 11th in blocked shots (0.84) ... Dane Suttle Jr. is 13th in three-point field goal percentage (.367) ... Ryan Holmes is 15th in assists (2.19) ... Mychel Thompson is 15th in blocked shots (0.57).
PLAYER OF THE WEEKKeion Bell became Pepperdine’s first WCC Player of the Week in about two years on Feb. 16. In home victories over Santa Clara and San Diego, he averaged 16.0 points, 7.5 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 3.5 steals. He had 14 points, five rebounds, five assists and two steals against Santa Clara. As the Waves rallied from a 15-point second-half deficit, his two free throws gave Pepperdine the lead for good with 1:56 left. He then collected his third double-double of the season with game highs of 18 points and 10 rebounds against San Diego, as well as five steals and four assists. Bell scored 12 of Pepperdine’s final 15 points of the game as the Waves held off the Toreros. The five steals were the most by a Pepperdine player this season. Bell is Pepperdine’s first WCC Player of the Week honoree since Chase Griffin won the award in February 2007. He’s the first Pepperdine freshman to win the award since Shaun Davis in December 2003.
ROSTER — The Waves have just five players that saw action last season. Only four of them were on the roster at season’s end, and because of injuries, only two of them played in the 2007-08 season finale at the WCC Tournament. The five returners accounted for 40.2% of last year’s scoring (950/2,365), 32.0% of the rebounding (357/1,117), 59.6% of the assists (239/401), 16.4% of the blocked shots (21/128) and 57.9% of the steals (183/316). To replenish the roster, the Waves added 10 newcomers. Two are sophomores that are junior college transfers, six are scholarship freshmen and two others are walk-on freshmen. Of the 15 players, 12 are underclassmen. The breakdown is three seniors, zero juniors, four sophomores and eight freshmen.
AGRE OUT — Sophomore center Denis Agre, in his first season at Pepperdine after transferring from Central Arizona College, became academically ineligible at the start of the semester. He averaged 3.2 points and 3.6 rebounds and started seven of the first 16 games.
RETURNERS — Three players — senior Rico Tucker (10.7 ppg last season), sophomore Mychel Thompson (8.1 ppg) and senior Ryan Holmes (6.0 ppg) — were starters in 2007-08. Senior Mike Hornbuckle (5.5 ppg) saw extended playing time last season and started half of the 32 games. Sophomore Gus Clardy (1.3 ppg), a walk-on, appeared in 16 games last season.
NEWCOMERS — When Tom Asbury was hired in February 2008, he was given a very late start to the recruiting process. The three recruits that signed letters-of-intent with the previous coaching staff were given their release, and several players transferred following the season. With many holes to fill, Asbury and his staff utilized their contacts, identified the best of the remaining unsigned talent that fit their needs and put together a very impressive group under the circumstances. The Sporting News ranked Pepperdine’s recruiting class #2 in the West Coast Conference.
NON-CONFERENCE SCHEDULE — The home schedule should have been much more palatable to Waves fans in 2008-09. A year after playing just three non-conference home games, Pepperdine supporters were treated to eight this time around, including ones against such big-time opponents as Brigham Young and Georgia Tech, and in-state rivals such as Cal State Bakersfield, UC Irvine and Pacific. A few of the road games were notable too, including contests at Pac-10 foes Arizona State and USC. The Waves also took part in the Rainbow Classic in Hawaii right after Christmas.
TELEVISION — The Waves will appear on television several times once again in 2008-09. Six games will be shown locally (Nov. 21 at Arizona State on FSN Prime Ticket, Jan. 10 vs. Loyola Marymount on ESPNU, Jan. 22 vs. Gonzaga on FSN West, Feb. 14 vs. San Diego on FSN West, Feb. 21 at Gonzaga on ESPNU and Feb. 26 vs. Saint Mary’s on FSN West). A few other games will be televised out of market (Nov. 21 at New Mexico State on FSN Arizona, Dec. 28 vs. Buffalo on KFVE in Hawaii, Jan. 17 at Saint Mary’s on Comcast Sports Net California).
TOM ASBURY — It was announced on Feb. 19, 2008, that the architect of one of the best stretches in Pepperdine history, Tom Asbury, was returning to Malibu to become the Waves’ head coach again. Asbury was previously at Pepperdine for 15 seasons, the first nine as an assistant coach (1980-88) and then the next six as the head coach (1989-94). He then served as head coach at Kansas State from 1995-2000 and was most recently an assistant coach at Alabama from 2004-07. Asbury went 125-59 (.679) in his first six seasons with the Waves and 210-147 (.588) in his first 12 seasons overall as a head coach. The Waves went to the postseason five times in six years with three NCAA Tournament appearances (1991, ’92, ’94) and two in the NIT (1989, ’93). Pepperdine won three regular-season West Coast Conference titles, finished no worse than second in any of his six seasons and compiled a league record of 66-18 (.786). Pepperdine’s only three WCC Tournament championships came under Asbury.
ASSISTANTSTom Asbury wanted to find assistants with a passion for Pepperdine and an understanding of its mission, so he turned to three former student-athletes. It’s believed that Duke and Pepperdine have the only two college basketball staffs where the assistant coaches are all alums. Associate head coach Marty Wilson (1985-89) and assistant coaches Damin Lopez (1990-94) and Will Kimble (2001-03) played in three different eras, all successful. In the 13 seasons that made up their playing careers, Pepperdine went a combined 261-135 (.659), had 12 winning seasons, won six WCC regular-season titles and three WCC tournament titles, and made six NCAA Tournaments and four NITs.
RECRUITS — The Waves signed two players to letters-of-intent for 2009-10 during the early-signing period. They are 6-foot-3 point guard Josh Lowery (Phoenix, Ariz./Desert Vista HS) and 6-foot-9 forward/center Tanner Kerry (Sydney, Australia).
WCC PRESEASON POLL — Thankfully, the coaches got it wrong. Pepperdine is assured of doing better than predicted, as the Waves were picked to finish eighth in the conference’s preseason poll, done by a vote of the coaches. The predicted order of finish went Gonzaga, Saint Mary’s, San Diego, Santa Clara, San Francisco, Portland, Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine.
LAST SEASON — The midseason resignation of Vance Walberg and several player departures that followed contributed to Pepperdine’s third straight losing season, as the Waves finished 11-21 overall and sixth in the WCC at 4-10. They defeated Portland in the first round of the WCC Tournament before falling to eventual champion San Diego in the quarterfinals.
PEPPERDINE HISTORY — This is the 71st season of Pepperdine basketball, and the Waves opened 2008-09 with an all-time record of 1,102-887 (.554). Pepperdine has been to the NCAA Tournament 13 times (last in 2002), and has won 12 West Coast Conference regular-season titles (last in 2002) and three WCC Tournament crowns (last in 1994).
BEST IN THE WEST — Over the 30-season period from the 1978-79 season through the 2007-08 campaign, Pepperdine has proven itself as one of the top Division I programs on the West Coast. Of the 31 schools that currently play Division I basketball in California, Oregon or Washington, the Waves began the 2008-09 season ranking third overall in postseason appearances (16) and fifth in both wins (516) and winning percentage (.575) over the past 30 years.
WCC HALL OF HONOR — Pepperdine great Doug Christie will be among the first class inducted into the WCC Hall of Honor at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas in March. Christie was a two-time All-American and WCC Player of the Year in 1991 and 1992. The other seven set to be inducted are Hank Gathers (Loyola Marymount), Frank Burgess (Gonzaga), Clive Charles (Portland), Carroll Williams (Santa Clara), Tom Meschery (Saint Mary’s), Bernie Bickerstaff (San Diego) and Joe Ellis (San Francisco).
WAVES IN THE PROS — Several former Pepperdine players have gone on to play in the NBA, most notably Dennis Johnson (the 1979 NBA Finals MVP) and Doug Christie (a 15-year NBA veteran who was a mainstay on the All-Defensive Team). This is the 33rd consecutive season where at least one Pepperdine alum has been on an NBA roster. Currently in the NBA is Yakhouba Diawara, now in his third season overall and his first with the Miami Heat. Alex Acker began the season with the Detroit Pistons but has come home after being traded to the Los Angeles Clippers. Some recent players have been playing in foreign countries, including Brandon Armstrong (Ukraine), Casey Crawford (Mexico), Tashaan Forehan-Kelly (New Zealand), Jelani Gardner (Greece), Kelvin Gibbs (Germany), Chase Griffin (Germany), Dana Jones (Switzerland) and Glen McGowan (Dominican Republic) and Levy Middlebrooks (Mexico). Robert "Hollywood" Turner, formerly a member of the Harlem Globetrotters, is now playing in Germany.
ABOUT PEPPERDINE — Pepperdine boasts a one-of-a-kind athletic department with unprecedented success for a school of its size. The Waves have won a total of nine NCAA championships in five different men’s sports — one of just 14 schools to have accomplished this feat. Of the 14, Pepperdine is the only non-BCS school and has by far the smallest enrollment. The majority of Pepperdine’s teams are ranked nationally year after year and several compete for conference and national titles.

ESPN's Colin Cowherd Talks Pepperdine
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Release: 10/31/2008

MALIBU, Calif. -- ESPN Radio host Colin Cowherd was interviewing Texas Tech football coach Mike Leach (a Pepperdine law school grad) earlier this week on his national radio show. Before Leach came on, Cowherd went on and on about Pepperdine's beautiful campus for a couple of minutes. Click here for an audio clip of Cowherd talking about Pepperdine.
Men’s Basketball Travels To Southern California To Close Regular Season
Release: 02/24/2009
Complete Release in PDF Format

Game 28 Saint Mary’s (22-5/8-4 WCC) at Pepperdine (8-20/5-7 WCC)
Thursday, February 26 Tip-off: 7:35 PM
Location: Malibu, CA Arena: Firestone Fieldhouse (3,104)
Television: Fox Sports Net/Comcast Sports
Net Bay AreaCommercial Radio: KDIA 1640 AM
Internet Radio: KDIA.com/SMCGaels.com
THIS WEEK IN SAINT MARY’S BASKETBALL Coming off a 75-64 win over No. 23 Utah State on Saturday, Saint Mary’s will play two road games this week to complete its 2008-09 regular season. The Gaels will travel to Southern California for games against Pepperdine and Loyola Marymount this week. SMC will battle the Waves on Thursday, before wrapping up the schedule with a Saturday game against the Lions. Thursday’s game against the Waves is slated to begin at 7:30 p.m. from the Firestone Fieldhouse. The Waves are 8-20 overall and are in fifth place in the WCC standings with a 5-7 record. SMC will play LMU in a 5 p.m. game on Saturday. The Lions enter the week with a 2-26 overall record, and are in eighth place in the WCC with a 1-11 ledger. Both games will be televised on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.
SMC is 22-5 overall and 8-4 in WCC play...SMC is currently in sole possession of third place in the WCC standings, and a game behind Portland...SMC received four votes in this week’s ESPN/USA Today’s coaches poll, and five votes in this week’s Associated Press poll...the 18-1 start set the record for the best-game start in school history...SMC had its school record 15-game win streak snapped on Jan. 29 with its loss to Gonzaga...with the win over Portland on Feb. 14, SMC notched back-to-back 20-win seasons for the first time in school history...SMC leads the WCC in rebounds (39.8 rpg), rebounding margin (+7.3), blocked shots (5.2 bpg), and steals (7.3 spg), and is second in scoring (74.4 ppg), scoring margin (+10.2), 3-pt FG percent defense (33.2 %), and 3-point field goals made per game (6.7 pg).
The Saint Mary’s versus Pepperdine game will be televised on Fox Sports Net and will be available in the Bay Area on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Sean Farnham and Paul Sunderlan calling the action. There will be a commercial radio broadcast available on KDIA AM 1640 with the Mike Bouve calling the action. The audio broadcast will be available through KDIA.com and SMCGaels.com.
Sophomore point guard Patrick Mills suffered two fractured metacarpal bones in his right hand in the final minutes of the first half against Gonzaga on Jan 29. Mills had successful surgery on Feb. 4 and is expected to miss four weeks and could return to the Gaels’ lineup for the WCC Tournament. The injury came with 3:06 left on the first half clock when Mills fell to the floor. SIMPSON BECOMES FIRST GAEL WITH 1,000 REBOUNDS
Diamon Simpson grabbed 15 rebounds against Gonzaga and became the first player in school history to score 1,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds. After grabbing seven rebounds against Utah State, he now has 1,036 rebounds in his career. He is just the 15th player in WCC history with 1,000 rebounds. He joined Santa Clara’s John Bryant who cleared the milestone on Jan. 31st, with 1,000 boards. The WCC is the only conference in the country with two active players with 1,000 career boards.
When Omar Samhan scored 17 points against Utah State on Feb. 23, he became the 26th player in school history to reach the 1,000-point mark for his career. He how has 1,003 total points, and ranks 26th in all-time in scoring. He needs four points to move into 24th, six points to move into 23rd, 11 points to jump to 22nd, and 13 to rank 21st all-time in scoring at Saint Mary’s. SAMHAN NAMED WCC PLAYER OF THE WEEK
For the second time this season, and third time in his career, junior center Omar Samhan was named the WCC Player of the Week after averaging 18.0 points and 11.5 rebounds in wins over San Diego and No. 23 Utah State. Samhan had 20 points and 10 rebounds in the win over the Toreros, and followed that double-double performance with a 17-point, 12-rebound effort in a 75-64 win over the nationally ranked Aggies. With his 17 points, he topped the 1,000-point mark for his career, giving him 1,003 total points in 91 career games.
Pepperdine enters Thursday’s game with an 8-20 overall record, and a 5-7 mark in WCC play, following a 92-58 loss on the road to Gonzaga on Saturday. The Waves dropped both games of the Northwest road trip, losing to Portland (74-45) on Thursday. The Waves are averaging 61.6 points per game, while shooting 38.7 percent from the floor, 31.5 percent from 3-point land, and 69.7 percent from the free throw line. Pepperdine’s opponents are averaging 73.4 points per game (giving the Waves a -11.8 scoring margin), while shooting 45.2 percent from the field, 34.4 percent from 3-point land, and 67.7 percent from the foul line.
The Waves hold a -1.0 rebounding margin, averaging 36.1 rebounds per game, while allowing their opponents 37.1 boards per outing. The leading scorer for Pepperdine is freshman guard Keion Bell at 12.8 points per game. During WCC play, Bell is averaging 15.8 points per game, which is more than double of the second leading scorer Mychel Thompson (7.8 ppg) during conference action. Bell also leads the squad in assists (61) and steals (45). Thompson averages 9.6 points per game overall, while making a team-high 33 3-pointers. Thompson leads the team with 16 blocks and is second on the squad with 22 steals. Taylor Darby is the team’s leading rebounder at 6.4 boards per game, while averaging 6.0 points per contest.
When Saint Mary’s and Pepperdine squared off in Moraga on Jan. 17, the Gaels handed the Waves a 50-point loss with a 96-46 performance. It was the largest win against a WCC school for Saint Mary’s. The Gaels had four players score in double figures, as Diamon Simpson led the way with a season-high 24 points. Carlin Hughes added 16 points and eight assists while Patrick Mills chipped in with 13 points and a career-high nine assists. Saint Mary’s connected on a season-high 15 3-pointers and dished out a season-best 27 assists. Pepperdine’s Keion Bell came off the bench to lead his team with 20 points and Mychel Thompson added 11.
In a series that dates back to the 1946-47 season, Saturday’s game between Saint Mary’s and Pepperdine will mark the 118th meeting all-time between the two schools. Pepperdine holds a 67-50 advantage overall, but the Gaels have won 10 of the last 11 games, including four straight. SMC has won the last seven games played in McKeon Pavilion. Randy Bennett is 12-6 record all-time versus Pepperdine.
Pepperdine Leads; 50-67Last Game: SMC 96 - PEP 46 (1.17.09)Saint Mary’s Record:In Moraga: 27-27In Malibu: 19-34On Neutral Court: 4-6
On Feb. 4, sophomore Patrick Mills was named a finalist for the Bob Cousy Award, which recognizes the nation’s top point guard. Mills was one of 17 players across the three NCAA Divisions named as a finalist, and was one of 13 players from Division I named to the list. The 2009 Bob Cousy Award presented by The Hartford winner will be presented at the NCAA Men’s Final Four in Detroit, Michigan on Monday, April 6.
Diamon Simpson and Omar Samhan are averaging a combined 19.8 rebounds per game, and are the second best rebounding duo in the country. Simpson leads the team with 10.5 rebounds per game, while Samhan adds 9.3 boards per outing. They are behind Hasheem Thabeet (10.5 rpg) and Jeff Adrian (10.3 rpg) of Connecticut, whom average 20.8 boards per game.SIMPSON AND SAMHAN TOP-30 NATIONALLY IN REBOUNDS
Diamon Simpson is averaging 10.5 rebounds per game to rank second (John Bryant 13.7 rpg) in the WCC in rebounds per game, while ranking 11th in the country. Omar Samhan is averaging 9.3 rebounds per game to rank third in the conference and 24th in the country. SIMPSON AND SAMHAN ARE DOUBLE-DOUBLE TROUBLE
Diamon Simpson (13.5 ppg/10.5 rpg) and Omar Samhan (13.8 ppg/9.3 rpg) have combined for 23 double-doubles this season. Simpson had 12 double-doubles, while Samhan has 11. They have had double-doubles in the same game four times this year, and the Gaels are 4-0 in those games.
When the Gaels defeated Portland (77-65) on Feb. 14, SMC earned its 20th win of the season for just the sixth all-time in program history. Prior to this season, the Gaels won 20 games in 2007-08 (25), 2004-05 (25), 1996-97 (23), 1988-89 (25), and 1941-42 (20).
By reaching the 20-win plateau this season, Randy Bennett became the first coach in school history to lead teams to 20 wins in back-to-back years. Last season Saint Mary’s posted a 25-7 record. The 2007-08 team posted win No. 20 in its 23rd game, matching the school record (1988-89) for the quickest to 20 victories.
Diamon Simpson collected three steals against Utah State and has 158 steals in his career. He is just four (4) steals shy of Kamran Sufi’s school record of 162 steals. With at least five games remaining for SMC, Simpson needs five (5) steals to break the school record. Should he break the record, he would hold the school records for rebounds (1036), blocks (229) and steals.
The Gaels received four (4) votes in the ESPN/USA Today Coaches Poll, and five (5) any votes in the Associated Press Poll. Saint Mary’s broke into the top-25 in the ESPN/USA Today’s coaches poll for the first time this season on Jan. 12 with a No. 25 national ranking. After being ranked 22nd on Jan 19, SMC moved up to 18th with 212 votes on Jan. 26. Saint Mary’s received 247 votes in the Associated Press poll on Jan. 26 and cracked the top-25 in the writer’s poll for the first time with season with a No. 22 national ranking. SMC has received votes in the ESPN/USA Today coaches poll all 16 weeks this season, and 13 of 16 weeks in the AP Poll.
SMC has scored more than 70 points 16 times this season, and has a 16-0 record when eclipsing the 70-point mark. Last season SMC went over the 70-point mark 20 times, and had a 19-1 record in those games. SMC is now 34-1 in its last 35 games when scoring more than 70 points. WCC TOURNAMENT HEADS TO LAS VEGAS
For the first time in conference history, the WCC is moving its premier event to a neutral site as the WCC Men’s and Women’s Basketball Championships will move to the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas in 2009. The 2009 basketball championships will be the 23rd annual event on the men’s side and the 17th annual women’s tournament, and will take place March 6-9.
NEXT WEEK IN GAELS HOOPS Next week SMC will participate in the 2009 West Coast Conference Tournament from the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV. The tournament will begin on Friday, March 6 with both the men and women’s teams playing the double-bye format.

St. Mary's Mills out for month with broken hand
Steve Kroner, Chronicle Staff Writer
Saturday, January 31, 2009

(01-30) 20:57 PST -- St. Mary's lost more than its 15-game winning streak and first place in the WCC when it dropped a 69-62 decision at Gonzaga on Thursday night. The Gaels also lost point guard Patty Mills for approximately a month because of two fractured metacarpal bones in his right hand, the school announced Friday.
Mills sustained the injury when he tried to break his fall with 3:06 left in the first half. He had tied the school record with six three-pointers and the Gaels were ahead 34-28.
With a four-week timetable, Mills might return to the Gaels' lineup for their final two regular-season games, Feb. 26 at Pepperdine and Feb. 28 at Loyola Marymount. If he waited another week, he would be back in time for the WCC tournament, which begins March 6 in Las Vegas. Because St. Mary's almost assuredly will finish in the top four of the conference, its first game in the tournament won't be until March 7 or March 8.
A sophomore who played on the Australian Olympic team last year, Mills leads the Gaels in scoring (18.7 points per game), assists (3.85 per game) and steals (2.35 per game).
St. Mary's head coach Randy Bennett has had the luxury of starting the same five players - Mills and Carlin Hughes at guard, Ian O'Leary and Diamon Simpson at forward and Omar Samhan at center - for each of his team's 20 games this season. Bennett also used one starting five, with Todd Golden instead of Hughes, for all 32 games last season.
Look for either sophomore Mickey McConnell or junior Wayne Hunter to replace Mills in the starting lineup when the Gaels (18-2, 5-1) play at Portland (14-7, 5-1) tonight.
E-mail Steve Kroner at skroner@sfchronicle.com.

Men's Hoops Falls to Saint Mary's, 62-49
Courtesy: Pepperdine Sports Information
Release: 02/26/2009

Pepperdine-Saint Mary's Box Score

MALIBU, Calif. ­— The Pepperdine men’s basketball team gave an excellent effort, but NCAA Tournament hopeful Saint Mary’s pulled away for a 62-49 victory in a West Coast Conference game on Thursday evening at Firestone Fieldhouse.

A little more than a month after losing 96-46 in Moraga, the Waves (8-21, 5-8) executed an impressive defensive game plan and trailed by just four points midway through the second half before the Gaels (23-5, 9-4) were able to prevail.

Sophomore forward Mychel Thompson (Ladera Ranch, Calif./Stoneridge Prep) equaled his most points in a conference game this season with 15. Freshman guard Lorne Jackson (Simi Valley, Calif./Simi Valley HS) had his highest scoring game in the WCC season with 10 in just nine minutes of action. Senior guard Ryan Holmes (Phoenix, Ariz./Millennium HS/Phoenix CC) added nine points and three assists.

Points for the Waves were scarce for a good chunk of the first half, but Pepperdine rallied in the final seven minutes. Saint Mary’s led 9-2 after five minutes, 13-4 after eight minutes and 20-6 after 13 minutes. With 6:55 to go, however, Jackson sank a three-pointer that ignited a 10-2 Pepperdine run over the next four-plus minutes, making the score 22-16. Holmes later hit two free throws with 5.4 seconds left, cutting Saint Mary’s halftime lead to 27-20.

The Waves held Saint Mary’s to 35.7% shooting in the first half, but shot 30.8% themselves.

Pepperdine chipped away at the lead early in the second half as Thompson and Holmes drained three-pointers. Freshman center Corbin Moore (Cypress, Calif./Los Alamitos HS) scored off an offensive rebound, and on the next possession, freshman forward Taylor Darby (San Marcos, Calif./Mission Hills HS) made a fast-break lay-up to close the gap to four points at 36-32 with 15:30 remaining. It was still a four-point game at 38-34, and while the Waves had multiple attempts to cut further into the lead, their shooting went cold.

Saint Mary’s was also having trouble scoring but finally came alive and went on an 11-0 run that extended the lead to 49-34. After 5 1/2 minutes without a basket due to five straight Pepperdine misses as well as two turnovers, Thompson sank a short jumper from the left baseline with 6:13 to play to end the drought. The Waves got no closer than 11 points the rest of the way.

Pepperdine ended up shooting 38.5%, compared to 40.8% for Saint Mary’s. Both teams made 20 field goals, but the Gaels hit 17 free throws on 22 attempts to Pepperdine’s five of eight. Although turnovers were near equal, the Gaels had a 17-7 edge on points off turnovers.

The Gaels played their eighth straight game without star guard Patrick Mills, out with a broken hand. They had four players reach double-figures, led by big men Omar Samhan (14 points) and Diamon Simpson (13 points and 14 rebounds).

Of the 11 players that saw action for the Waves, nine were freshmen or sophomores, and seven weren’t on the roster last year.

The Waves have their regular-season finale on Saturday (Feb. 28) against San Francisco at 2 p.m. in Firestone Fieldhouse. Pepperdine’s three seniors will be honored prior to the game. Subscribers to “Wave Casts” at http://www.pepperdinesports.com/?DB_OEM_ID=18500 can watch the game and listen to Al Epstein’s call of the action.

Men’s Basketball Moves In to Second Place Following 62-49 Win Over Waves
Release: 02/26/2009

Box Score (HTML)
Box Score (PDF)

Malibu, CA – With one game remaining in West Coast Conference play, Saint Mary’s moved into a tie for second place in the conference standings following a 62-49 win over Pepperdine from the Firestone Fieldhouse. The Gaels now share second place with Portland, which was defeated by San Diego on Thursday night. Saint Mary’s (23-5/9-4 WCC) had four players score in double figures. Omar Samhan led the Gaels with 14 points as he connected on 4-of-8 shots from the field and 5-of-8 free throws, and finished the game with five rebounds. Diamon Simpson notched his 13th double-double of the season, and 33rd of his career with 13 points and a game-high 14 rebounds. It was Simpson’s 17th double-digit rebound game of the season. Simpson also added one block, one steal and one assist. He is now three rebounds shy of the school record for steals of 162 held by Kamran Sufi (1993-97). Wayne Hunter and Carlin Hughes added 12 points each. Saint Mary’s shot 40.8 percent for the game, connecting on 20-of-49 shots overall. The Gaels shot 47.6 percent in the second half after shooting just 35.7 percent in the first half. The Gaels ended up out rebounding the Waves 34-29 overall after being outrebounded 20-16 in the first half. Saint Mary’s jumped out to an early 9-2 first half lead, as Samhan scored four of the first nine points for the Gaels. SMC extended its lead to double digits at the 9:27 mark, when Ian O'Leary scored on a put-back for a 17-6 advantage. SMC took its biggest lead of the half two minutes later when Carlin Hughes hit his first three of the game. After the Gaels held a 20-6 advantage following the Hughes three, Pepperdine outscored Saint Mary’s 14-7 over the final seven minutes of the half. The Gaels had just two field goals and two free throws the final seven minutes of the half, and saw its 14-point lead cut in half at the intermission at 27-20. Saint Mary’s shot 35.7 percent from the floor in the first half, but only made 3-of-13 threes (23 percent). Simpson, Samhan and Hughes had six points each at the intermission. Ryan Holmes’ six first-half points led Pepperdine. Lucas Walker hit a three to open the second half, give SMC a 10-point (30-20) lead. Following the Walker three, Pepperdine went on a 12-6 run, which included six points by Mychel Thompson on two threes, and back-to-back baskets by Corbin Moore and Taylor Darby to cut SMC’s lead to 36-32 with 15:28 remaining. Samhan ended a five-minute scoring drought for the Gaels with a lay-up at the 12:03 mark, as both teams did not score for 3:36 following the Darby basket. The next SMC basket came at the 9:55 mark when Hughes banked in a lay-up off a Samhan assist. The basket sparked an 11-0 SMC run over the next 3:28, which included four points from Hughes, five points from Wayne Hunter and a pair of free throws from Simpson. Following the run, SMC held a 49-34 lead with 6:27 remaining on the clock. The Gaels held a 17-point lead at 55-38 following a basket by Simpson with 4:27 left to play. A quick 6-0 run by the Waves put a scare into the Gaels, cutting the deficit to 55-44 with 2:37 left to play. SMC put the game out of reach by making 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch.Saint Mary’s will close its 2008-09 regular season on Saturday evening with a 5 p.m. against Loyola Marymount at Gersten Pavilion.

Saint Mary's downs Pepperdine 62-49
MALIBU, Calif. (AP) -Diamon Simpson had 13 points and 14 rebounds and Omar Samhan had 14 points to lead Saint Mary's past Pepperdine 62-49 on Thursday.
Four players scored in double-figures for the Gaels (23-5, 8-5 West Coast Conference), who won their fourth straight game and 11 of the last 12 meetings against Pepperdine.
Mychel Thompson had 15 points and Lorne Jackson 10 for the Waves (8-21, 5-8).
Pepperdine pulled as close as 38-34 when Keion Bell hit a floater, but then Saint Mary's responded with 11 unanswered points.
Unlike the first meeting between the two teams that Saint Mary's won 96-56, neither team exploded offensively to start the game.
Pepperdine missed 15 of its first 18 shots and didn't score in double digits until Thompson made one of two free throws with 5:44 in the first half, trimming Saint Mary's lead to 20-10.
The Gaels, who led by as many as 14 in the first half, led 27-20 at halftime.