A swished jump shot here, a made jumper over there. And don’t forget about the thunderous fast break dunk. Pepperdine Waves men’s basketball player Victor Ohia Obioha had one of best performances of his college hoops career in the biggest of games for his squad late last month.
Pepperdine junior Obioha, a 6-foot-9 center, scored a career-high 16 points, grabbed six rebounds, and blocked two shots in Pepperdine’s 84-61 victory over the Coastal Carolina Chanticleers in the College Basketball Invitational championship game on March 24.
Obioha, 21, wanted to fill his role on the Waves’ roster the best way possible.
“I wasn’t going into the game expecting to have a big night or do anything that I’m not used to doing,” said Obioha, who finished the season with a 5.6 point per game scoring average. “I just wanted to go in and do what I do every night. It just happened that night turned out to be a big night for me.”
The center shot seven of nine from the field against the Chanticleers. He hit three midrange jumpers, had a transition dunk and had a few layups. The torrid shooting came two days after he scored a then-college-best 13 points against Longwood in the opening round of the eight-team invitational.
Obioha acknowledged that he has a deft shooting touch. Jump shooting, he said, is something he practices relentlessly. The third-year Wave said his CBI finale performance has given him a confidence boost.
“The championship game showed me what I am capable of doing,” Obioha said. “That game showed me that I can perform like I did any given night. It motivates me to keep working on my game, getting better and getting ready for next season.”
Junior guard David Polk Jr. led Pepperdine with 19 points in the contest. Senior guard Colbey Ross and junior guard Jadé Smith also scored in double figures.
Obioha had butterflies dribbling around his stomach before facing Coastal Carolina but knew if he and his teammates played hard offensively and defensively the odds of winning were in their favor.
Obioha, a who began playing basketball almost six years ago, learned a lot about himself this college basketball season, which had a delayed start, featured several canceled games and no fans at games because of the novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It taught me to play with the same energy every single game whether there are fans or not because that is literally what the season was about: Teams being able to create their own energy without fans,” he said.
Obioha is eager for Pepperdine’s next season and hopes to make his CBI championship game showing a more common occurrence. He is also savoring the triumph over the Chanticleers.
“Ending the season on a win felt really good,” he said. “Not a lot of teams get to do that.”