Bence Valics had 14 saves for Pepperdine.

MALIBU, Calif. -- No. 8 Pepperdine got off to a strong offensive start then relied on its defense for a convincing 10-6 victory against No. 4 UC Irvine in the 2012 MPSF opener Saturday at Raleigh Runnels Memorial Pool. The Waves (8-5, 1-0 MPSF) remain unbeaten at home after their best match of the season against the Anteaters (14-4, 0-1 MPSF).

“It was a huge win for us,” Pepperdine interim co-head coach Merrill Moses said. “We prepared all week for this and we knew what they were going to do. We’ve put in a different mentality in the program since I came on board and Terry [Schroeder] and Coach Rodriguez have played a big part in that as well. The kids are believing now that hard work pays off."

Pepperdine rolled to a 3-0 lead in the opening period behind goals from Spencer Hamby, Matthew DeTrane and Stephen Loomis. Loomis led the Waves to a 4-2 edge with his second goal of the period.

In the second frame, the Waves defense stepped up and shutout the Anteaters. DeTrane opened the scoring with his second goal, followed by strikes from Marko Madaras and James Perry as Pepperdine took a 7-2 lead into the intermission.

UC Irvine made a big push in the third period, scoring three goals to close the deficit to 7-5, but then Colin Carroll scored a big goal to give the Waves some cushion. The Anteaters would respond with a power play goal from Bojan Hrlec to make it an 8-6 Pepperdine lead entering the fourth.

The Waves stepped up defensively in the final frame and shut out UC Irvine. Madaras and Hamby scored their second goals of the match.

Bence Valics played well for the Waves, collecting 14 saves, including six during a furious third quarter. For the match, Pepperdine was credited with nine steals with Perry and Hamby collecting two apiece.

“Limiting them to two goals in one half was huge,” Moses said. “Obviously I like the offense too, but I knew there was going to be runs. Water polo is a game of runs and they had their run and we controlled it and we went back on our run and regained the momentum. “

Mitch Wise scored a match-high three goals for UC Irvine.