Pepperdine made its only trip outside of California until 2020, taking down ACU in a hard-fought battle Saturday night.
Junior guard Colbey Ross played all 40 minutes in the win with 22 points, six assists and four steals. He also was a perfect 7-7 at the charity stripe.
Shots were hard to come by for the Waves early on, shooting a dismal 3-11 (27.2%) from the field. The Wildcats also came out strong defensively, forcing nine turnovers in the first 13 minutes.
The Waves came into the game averaging just eight turnovers a game. Its early struggles on offense put them in a 20-10 hole with 7:46 remaining in the first half.
Head Coach Joe Golding said that his team isn’t lacking effort this season. It’s simply been a hard non-conference schedule so far.
“Our guys are playing hard,” Golding said. “I really like this basketball team. We just need more consistency as the season goes along.”
Following the Wildcats’ early lead, Pepperdine responded with 24-6 run to close out the first half. The Waves would go to halftime with a 34-26 lead.
After shooting just 26.1% (6-23) in the first half, the Wildcats’ shots started falling, making its first four shot attempts in the second half and hitting at a 51.9% (14-27) clip.
Following four missed shots and only three points in the first half, senior guard Payten Ricks caught fire from deep. He drained four three-pointers and finished with a team-high 18 points.
Junior Center Kolton Kohl was also big for the Wildcats, going for a double-double with 13 points and 10 rebounds.
It was about as close of a game as it could get in the second half. Neither team had more than a three-point advantage in the final 10 minutes of play until the Waves sinked two free throws with five seconds remaining.
After the Waves missed a three-point shot with 14 seconds left, sophomore guard Damien Daniels broke out in transition. Trailing 71-69, Daniels drove inside the paint, but failed to connect on the game-tying layup.
Golding said he could have called timeout but believed in Daniels and the rest of the team.
“We have all seen Damien for a year now and he makes that shot a lot,” Golding said. “I didn’t call a timeout because I trusted him, and that’s part of it. You got to trust your players.”
After the loss on Saturday, the Wildcats hit the road again for a quick turnaround. They’ll head to Las Vegas to battle with UNLV Monday at 9 p.m.