MALIBU, Calif. – Fueled by a dominant second half, the Mavericks kicked off their California road trip Thursday night with a 56-51 win to Pepperdine.
Omaha is back over .500 as they improve to 4-3 on the year. As for the Waves, they fall to 2-5.
Leaders For Omaha
For the fourth time this season, Elena Pilakouta led the Mavericks in scoring with 15 points after shooting 7-for-13 (.539). She has now reached double-digit points in all seven games this season, besting her six-game streak set back in 2021 for the longest of her career. She also led the team with eight total rebounds.
Also reaching double-digits was Kennedi Grant (14 points), whose two 3-PT FGs were the most of anyone on either team today. Her six steals today were also the most on the court, as well as a new career best.
Grace Cave was Omaha’s third double-digit scorer with 10 points. She paced the Mavericks with three free throws (3-for-4) and four assists.
Morgan Gardner also made the first start of her career after previously only being used off the bench through her first 24 appearances.
Leaders for Pepperdine
Grace Theresa Mbanefo had the most points of any player today with 20. She shot 8-for-12 (.666) and went 1-for-1 on three-pointers and 3-for-3 on free throws. Her 10 total rebounds earned her a double-double as well.
The Mavericks were just barely out shot by the Waves on field goals, going 19-for-57 (33.3%) vs. 20-for-57 (35.1%). Pepperdine also had superior free throw accuracy at 9-for-11 (81.8%) vs. Omaha’s 13-for-18 (72.2%). Where the Mavericks did hold a substantial edge, though, was in three-pointers, going 5-for-18 (27.8%) while Pepperdine was only 2-for-16 (12.5%).
In terms of rebounding, Pepperdine nearly doubled Omaha, putting up 51 boards to their 27. The Mavericks made up for this with superior ball control, however, with 15 steals and only 13 turnovers while the Waves turned it over 28 times and only had seven steals.
Inside the First Quarter
The first period was a relatively quiet affair for both teams as they combined for 25 points. Omaha only shot 3-for-16 (.188) in the quarter, and Pepperdine was only marginally better at 6-for-16 (.375).
Pilakouta initially got Omaha on the board with a layup at 8:43, but it would take nearly three and a half minutes for the Mavericks to score again. Down 8-2, Jaylen Townsend had Omaha’s first three-pointer of the day to break the Waves’ 6-0 scoring run. Cave would later tie the game at 10-10 with 3-PT FG at 1:46.
Inside the Second Quarter
Period two was even lower scoring than the first, with Omaha topping Pepperdine 12-10 as both teams combined for seven field goals.
Pilakouta had a pair of layups and rebounds for the Mavericks, while Gardner, Aaliyah Stanley, and Polina Nikulochkina all went 2-for-2 from the foul line. Omaha’s defense did an excellent job suppressing Pepperdine’s attack with four steals, with Grant picking up two of them.
Inside the Third Quarter
Coming out of the break, the Mavericks were firing on all cylinders in the third, outscoring the Waves 21-12.
After Meali’l Amosa began the period with a layup for Pepperdine, Pilakouta made back-to-back layups to get Omaha within one. After the Waves responded with another layup, Omaha went on an 8-0 run featuring two from behind the arc from Grant at 8:04 and 6:23.
Omaha dropped eight more points in the final two minutes, starting with a three-pointer from Akili Felici at 2:00 and capped off by a Grant free throw.
Inside the Fourth Quarter
Up 43-37 at the start of the final quarter, Omaha continued its hot streak with six more points in the first three minutes thanks to buckets from Grant, Felici, and Pilakouta.
The Waves, however, were not out yet as they scored eight unanswered over the next four minutes to actually take a 50-49 lead. Fortunately, Grant almost immediately gave the Mavericks back the lead with a jumper at 2:46, before a layup from Stanley and a free throw Sam Mitchell put Omaha up by four with 17 seconds remaining to ice effectively finish off the Waves.
Omaha will head up to Bakersfield to close out their California trip with a game against Cal State Bakersfield this Sunday at 4 p.m.