Despite a season-high 26 points from star Stacy Davis, the Pepperdine Waves could not hold onto a slim halftime lead as they fell 81-74 to Arizona State on the road Saturday. Davis just missed out on a double-double adding 9 rebounds to his game-high scoring effort. He was one of five Waves to reach double-digit points in the loss as the Sun Devils overcame a 31-29 halftime deficit to steal away the upset opportunity.
The Waves held a 41-34 lead with 15 minutes to go, but things unraveled after Davis picked up his third foul and went to the bench. That allowed the Sun Devils to go on a game-changing 15-0 run that gave them their first lead of the game. They would lead by as much as 14 before Pepperdine closed to gap to lose by single digits.
Pepperdine falls to 5-2 with the loss. They have dropped two of their last four games after a 3-0 start. Arizona State improves to 6-3 on the season. They will finish the regular season a perfect 2-0 against the West Coast Conference after beating Loyola Marymount earlier this season.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Arizona State Rebounds – 40
Pepperdine Rebounds – 25
A big reason why the Sun Devils were able to get their big run that changed the game was Davis being on the bench. The rebounding machine is the biggest protector the Waves have underneath the basket, and without him they are open to being dominated inside. The Sun Devils controlled the boards highlighted by Shaquielle McKissic having a big night with 11 rebounds and 22 points. Second chance points were a huge issue as the Arizona State had the 16-5 advantage in offensive rebounds. If the Waves do a better job of cleaning up on the glass, they win this game.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
Nov 14, 2014; Tempe, AZ, USA; Arizona State Sun Devils guard Shaquielle McKissic (40) dribbles the ball against the Chicago State Cougars during the first half at Wells-Fargo Arena. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Shaquielle McKissic – Arizona State
Davis had a huge game, but McKissic matched him punch for punch with his own big performance. Both got great support from their teammates, so at the end of the day the superior talent and depth that comes with being a Pac-12 team versus a WCC team came into play as the Sun Devils did just enough to win. McKissic had 4 points, 2 rebounds, and 1 steal during the 15-0 run and sparked the comeback along with fellow ASU star Eric Jacobsen. With 20 points and 9 rebounds Jacobsen easily could have been the player of the game, but McKissic gets the nod for his double-double.
THE WAVES ARE FOR REAL
Pepperdine has yet to play a bad game. Every one of their wins has come comfortably by double digits, and their two losses have come on the road to very legitimate major conference opponents. Even in the losses they have looked good, and they played well enough to win both of them had some things gone differently. They are flashing a lot of talent and depth in the early going, and they look like the best outside of the big three so far in the WCC, even better than breakout candidate Portland and last year’s breakout team San Francisco. It’s going to be very interesting to see what kind of noise they can make in conference play.
Every WCC team has a star player of two. The ones that succeed however are able to find a quality group of 3-5 guys to play well behind them in support. The Waves have done an amazing job of supporting their star Stacy Davis, and it’s been key to their success. Jeremy Major has been building on his quality freshman season. Jett Raines has been a revelation as he is putting up star quality numbers at a consistent rate as well. Atif Rusell has also been putting up big numbers after moving into the starting lineup a few games ago. And this is before we even get to quality supporters like Amadi Udenyi and freshman Shawn Olden.
The Waves don’t just boast depth, they boast quality depth that is consistently giving them 4-5 quality performances per night. If that keeps up, they will continue to be competitive in every game they play. This is the most dangerous dark horse in the WCC right now, and they continue to fire on all cylinders even in their losses.
STACY DAVIS IS AMONG THE BEST IN THE WCC
Davis might be the best player in the WCC not wearing a Gonzaga, BYU, or Saint Mary’s uniform. And he probably is a starter and key player on any of those rosters as well. His elite play inside is a game-changer, and he keeps the Waves in every game. You see it when he’s on the court, and you also see it when he’s off the court like in this game where his trip to the bench completely altered the outcome. He has been nothing but consistently elite all season, and it’s scary to think he’s just a junior. The Waves will ride him all the way through the season, and he will be a treat to watch in the big WCC games against other elite bigs in the conference.
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The Waves have a pretty backloaded non-conference schedule due to their upcoming play in the Gotham Classic. While most WCC only have 1-2 games left before conference play, the Waves have four including three next week. They will host South Alabama on Monday, Howard on Wednesday, and then travel across the country to New York to face Richmond on Saturday. None of these pose a serious threat to the Waves, and this loss to Arizona State could be their last before they hit conference play.