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Brynna Maxwell threes silence the Waves, 67-49

A second half explosion from outside fueled the win.

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The Pepperdine Waves had the Gonzaga Bulldogs and Brynna Maxwell figured out for the first half, but unfortunately, a basketball game is 40 minutes long, and the Zags toppled Pepperdine 67-49.

It was a huge second half explosion from the Zags, led by Maxwell and her 26, including six threes. Twenty-one of those points and five of those threes all came in the second half.

Esther Little earned the start for the Zags, replacing Eliza Hollingsworth in the starting lineup after Hollingsworth to a hard fall on Thursday. Without Hollingsworth ability to help stretch the floor, the Pepperdine defense completely smothered the Gonzaga shooters, denying any decent shot from the outside for much of the first half.

Pepperdine’s defense flustered the Zags relentlessly in the first quarter. Gonzaga shot just 3-for-15 in the first quarter, either settling for outside shots or occasionally funneling the ball into the interior. Either way, nothing was falling for Gonzaga, who trailed 15-8 going into the second quarter.

To start the second quarter, things didn’t get much better. The only difference is that Pepperdine’s offense started to falter, and the Zags were able to turn some defense into offense, going on a 8-0 run to help bridge the gap between the two teams. The Zags trailed 28-24 at half, not a bad deficit considering they shot just 6-of-28 from the floor (and 1-of-8 from three) in the first half compared to Pepperdine shooting nearly 40 percent and draining three threes.

Whatever halftime speech happened clearly clicked, because the Zags came out absolutely scorching. Brynna Maxwell hit back-to-back three pointers as the Zags rattled off a quick 8-0 run in one minute to take the lead. Maxwell would hit two more threes in the quarter and Kalynne Truong added a couple of her own as Gonzaga buried Pepperdine from the outside, outscoring the Waves 26-10 and taking a 50-38 lead going into the final frame.

The onslaught continued in the fourth quarter, although a few more of the threes that were falling were just barely rolling off the rim. Either way, it was a good and gritty win for a Zag team that is operating rather short-handed at the moment, with only eight players available to suit up due to injuries.

Most impressively, the Zags were able to stay in the game in which it looked like Pepperdine could have run away with it by largely denying the Waves any second-chance points. Pepperdine grabbed a staggering 18 offensive rebounds, not something Lisa Fortier is probably too excited about. However, the Waves scored just three points off those 18 second chances.