No. 17 Saint Mary’s beats Pepperdine, clinches WCC title


Augustas Marciulionis scored 17 points and matched his career high of 11 assists and No. 17 Saint Mary’s clinched its first outright West Coast Conference regular-season title since the 2011-12 season with an 83-57 victory over host Pepperdine on Thursday night at Malibu, Calif.

Luke Barrett added 14 points and eight rebounds for the Gaels (24-6, 15-0 WCC), who own the nation’s longest current winning streak at 16 games. Alex Ducas had 12 points and 10 rebounds, Mason Forbes had 11 points and Mitchell Saxen scored 10 before fouling out for Saint Mary’s.

The Gaels shot 59.6 percent from the field, had a 37-24 rebounding edge and led by as many as 27 points while beating the Waves for the 15th time in the past 17 meetings.

Saint Mary’s, which will be the No. 1 seed for the upcoming WCC tournament, closes the regular season at home against No. 23 Gonzaga on Saturday night.

Jevon Porter scored 22 points for Pepperdine (12-19, 5-11), which led for just 35 seconds. WCC scoring leader Michael Ajayi had just seven points on 3-of-11 shooting for the Waves.

Pepperdine lost Houston Mallette to a right knee injury with 11:55 remaining and he returned to the bench area on crutches with under four minutes remaining. Mallette had four points before exiting. He was averaging 15 entering the game.

Malik Moore and Cord Stansberry added 10 points apiece for the Waves, who shot 36.7 percent from the field and were 4 of 12 from behind the arc.

Marciulionis had 13 points and seven assists in the first half as the Gaels built a 51-28 lead. Porter scored 11 in the half for Pepperdine. The Waves trailed just 27-23 after a 3-pointer by Stansberry with 8:15 left in the half. Marciulionis answered with a 3-pointer and a layup as Saint Mary’s ripped off 15 straight points to open up a 19-point advantage with 4:27 remaining.

The lead reached 24 on a 3-pointer by Barrett with 1:48 left.

In the second half, Pepperdine moved within 65-51 on a basket by Porter with 8:27 left. Marciulionis responded with a layup and Ducas converted a three-point play to push the lead back to 19.

Saxen scored consecutive baskets to make it 74-53 with 3:47 left and Saint Mary’s finished off the victory.