SACRAMENTO, CALIF. Craig Dawson's first and last trip to the NCAA tournament isn't over yet.
The senior scored 19 points to lead seventh-seeded Wake Forest over Pepperdine 83-74 Thursday in the Midwest Regional.
Dawson has waited four years to play in the tournament. Last season, he sat out with a shoulder injury from the week before in the Atlantic Coast Conference tournament, and watched from the bench as the Demon Deacons were upset by Butler in the first round.
As a freshman and sophomore, Dawson played in the NIT, including Wake Forest's 2000 tournament title.
Dawson hit two big 3-pointers early in the second half Thursday to put the Deacons (21-12) back in front when Pepperdine (22-9) twice held one-point leads. He punctuated the scoring on a dunk with 14.9 seconds remaining.
The Waves, who twice trailed by 13 points early in the game, kept it close most of the second half, but never took more than a two-point lead.
Devin Montgomery led the Waves with 17 points, including four 3-pointers. Boomer Brazzle added 13 points.
Pepperdine tied the game for the final time at 56 with 11:06 remaining on Craig Lewis' first basket of the game.
Wake Forest then outscored the Waves 27-18 to end the game and give Skip Prosser a victory at Arco Arena, where he made his college head coaching debut with Loyola of Maryland in 1993.
Darius Songaila added 18 points for the Deacons, who had lost six of their previous nine games.
The Waves had won 17 of 19 coming in, but they faced a huge jinx, having never beaten an ACC team in 11 tries. The defeat made them 0-12, including four first-round tournament losses.
The Deacons twice led by 13 points in the game's opening six minutes. The Waves got back in it on 3-pointers, including three by Montgomery.
Brazzle launched a 12-6 run over the final 4:12 that had the Waves trailing 38-35 at halftime. Montgomery scored five in a row and Mike Westphal, the seldom-used son of coach Paul Westphal, closed the half with a fastbreak layup.
Pepperdine was in the tournament for the first time since 2000, when the Waves upset Indiana 77-57 in Bob Knight's last NCAA tourney game as the Hoosiers' coach.