Santa Clara (13-6, 2-3 WCC) did everything right against San Francisco on Thursday night and got back into the win column. Now it’s time to see if they can repeat the performance against Pepperdine.
The Waves (9-8, 1-3) are similar to USF in its lack of experience but completely different in style of play. Pepperdine has made its living on defense and rebounding.
Pepperdine has the league’s best field goal percentage against at 39.6 percent and is middle of the pack in rebounding. Stacy Davis and Moriba De Freitas have been a big part to that defensive success.
Davis leads the team in rebounding with eight boards per game in conference play. De Freitas only plays about 17 minutes per game but cleans up with 4.5 rebounds per game.
It has been incredibly important that they step up his play with senior guard Caleb Willis being declared academically ineligible on Jan. 5. Willis had averaged six rebounds in two conference games before becoming ineligible.
But if Santa Clara can turn this game into a track meet, they could take Pepperdine out of this game early. Pepperdine has scored more than 60 points once since Dec. 20.
Kevin Foster recorded his first career double-double against San Francisco on Thursday and, aside from a poor performance at LMU, has been consistent in WCC play. Outside of a dismal performance against LMU, Foster has averaged 24.7 points while shooting 44 percent from the field.
Raymond Cowels III is averaging 13.2 points and shooting 48 percent from three in WCC play.
Yannick Atanga has also given Santa Clara a boost on the defensive end. He has grabbed eight rebounds and one block per game through five conference games.