Simpson leads Saint Mary’s to a 79-74 victory over Pepperdine
MORAGA, Calif. (AP)—Diamon Simpson had 17 points and 14 rebounds to lead Saint Mary’s to a 79-74 victory over Pepperdine, which was playing its first game under interim head coach Eric Bridgeland.
Tron Smith scored 15 points, including five free throws in the final 41 seconds to help the Gaels improve to 15-2, 2-0 in the West Coast Conference.
Pepperdine played an emotional game in its first appearance since Vance Walberg resigned Thursday as head coach. Walberg cited personal and family reasons. He posted a 14-35 record before leaving the Waves.
Pepperdine (6-13, 0-3) lost its seventh consecutive game to NCAA Division I competition. Tyrone Shelley led Pepperdine with 20 points and 14 rebounds.
The Gaels’ biggest lead was 11 points with 6:25 remaining, but Pepperdine fought back to within three points with two minutes to play.
Todd Golden, who finished with nine points, nailed back-to-back 3-pointers to help Saint Mary’s hold on. Ian O’Leary and Patty Mills scored 10 points apiece for the Gaels.
Saint Mary’s closed out the first half with a 12-2 run over the final five minutes for a 38-30 lead. O’Leary helped the Gaels overcome a sluggish start with 10 first-half points.
The Gaels opened the second half with one turnover, five missed shots from the field and two missed free throws before Simpson scored off an offensive rebound for a 40-34 lead.
Neither team shot the ball well from the field.
Saint Mary’s made just 41.8 percent of its attempts, while the Waves shot 41.5 percent. Pepperdine converted just 6 of 21 from 3-point range.
Rico Tucker scored 16 points for the Waves. Daniel Johnson had 10 points and seven rebounds, while Malcolm Thomas added nine points and 10 rebounds.