Malibu, Calif. • After losing their West Coast Conference opener at Loyola Marymount on Saturday, the BYU Cougars knew they had to defend the 3-point line better, keep their big guys out of foul trouble and make more than a handful of 3-pointers themselves against resurgent Pepperdine on Monday.
They did none of the above.
The result in front of a partisan BYU crowd of 2,317 at Firestone Fieldhouse bore that out, as the Waves made 13 3-pointers to the Cougars’ one long-range bomb and took an 80-74 win to improve to 2-0 in WCC play.
The suddenly sinking Cougars dropped to 0-2 in league play, 8-7 overall, and suffered their fourth straight loss, their longest losing skid in coach Dave Rose’s nine-year tenure.
“Right now, their confidence is obviously down,” Rose said. “We need to get back home, and get practicing again, and see if we can turn this thing around on Saturday [against San Diego].”
Pepperdine was an incredible 13 of 24 from 3-point range, while the Cougars were 1 of 10, their only one coming in the final minute, by Anson Winder. Pepperdine’s Malcolm Brooks did the most damage, going 6 of 9 from long range en route to 24 points, one of five players in double figures for the home team.
“I thought that in some ways it was similar to the other night [vs. LMU], where they had a guard that was really good from the perimeter,” Rose said. “We obviously need to have a better defensive presence, especially on the guard line. But Brooks was terrific tonight. He was really good.”
Again, the Cougars lost this one in the first half, falling behind 40-28 at the break and going most of the first 20 minutes without their big guys, Eric Mika and Nate Austin. Both had two fouls in the first half and ended up fouling out, Austin for the third straight game.
Still, Cougars came out in the second half and made a game of it, unlike Saturday at LMU. They cut the deficit to five, but UP answered with a 7-0 run. They cut another double-digit deficit to seven with 10 minutes remaining, only to watch Brooks sandwich a pair of 3-pointers around one by Amadi Udenyi, who was 4 of 6 from long range.
“We had a lot more deflections, and the guys were a lot more active in the second half,” Rose said. “That let us get back into it, but we missed some key free throws down the stretch.”
The Cougars were just 19 of 29 from the free-throw line.
Freshman Frank Bartley missed two free throws with 49 seconds left and BYU trailing 73-69.
He made a driving layup with 39 seconds left to get the UP lead down to four again, but Mika fouled out trying to block Brendan Lane’s shot, then was assessed a technical foul. The Waves made three of four free-throws to ice it, getting their first WCC win over BYU in five tries.
A referee told Rose that Mika was “too demonstrative” after the call, which was the reason for the technical foul.
The Cougars lost despite having six fewer turnovers and winning the rebounding battle. They outscored the Waves 44-24 in the paint.
“This is tough,” said BYU forward Josh Sharp, who had four points and six rebounds off the bench. “Most of these guys have never been in this situation, record-wise. But of all the guys anywhere, it is the guys in that locker room who can bounce back.”
R BYU loses its fourth straight game as Pepperdine uses 13 3-pointers to spring the upset.
In short • BYU loses its fourth-straight game as Pepperdine uses 13 3-pointers to spring the upset
Key moment • Three-straight 3-pointers by the Waves after BYU cuts the deficit to seven is too much to overcome.
Key stat • Pepperdine makes 13 of 24 3-point attempts.