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Zags suffer first WCC loss

Portland handed Gonzaga its first WCC loss, outplaying the visiting Bulldogs 82-73 Thursday at the Chiles Center.

The Bulldogs never led and trailed by as many as 17. Sam Dower Jr. led Gonzaga with 14 points, despite appearing to be in pain on several occasions. He missed two games recently with a lower back injury.

Read on for an unedited game recap.


 

Staff report

PORTLAND – A number of Gonzaga winning streaks came to an end Thursday night.

The Portland Pilots knocked off the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs 82-73, ending Gonzaga’s 17-game winning streak at the Chiles Center and prompting Pilots fans to storm the court in celebration.

The Bulldogs had won 20 straight in the series.

Gonzaga (14-3, 4-1 WCC) also saw its 22-game conference winning streak snapped by the Pilots (10-7, 2-3), who took control early and were the aggressor for most of the contest.

Five Pilots reached double figures, led by Bryce Pressley’s 16 points and nine assists. Freshman guard Alec Wintering added 14 points and four assists. Kevin Bailey scored 10 of his 13 points in the first half.

“I always thought it might come when people weren’t expecting it,” eighth-year coach Eric Reveno, who had been winless in 14 tries against Gonzaga, said in a post-game interview on ESPNU. “I like my basketball team. I’m so proud of them to trust each other and the work they’ve put in. We were aggressive, we were confident and we just took it in 4-minute segments.”

The Bulldogs never led and never found their stride at either end of the court. Portland made 52 percent of its shots, including 8 of 14 3-pointers, and 77 percent at the free-throw line. Gonzaga, which shares first place in the WCC with San Francisco, finished at 45 percent but made just 4 of 15 beyond the 3-point arc. Portland blocked eight GU shots.

Gonzaga struggled from the opening tip as the Pilots jumped out to an 11-3 lead. The Bulldogs rallied within 13-12 on Sam Dower Jr.’s basket and trailed 20-17 after another Dower field goal.

Every time Gonzaga pulled close, the Pilots had an answer. Pressley’s 3-pointer – one of the Pilots’ five 3s in the first half – started a 14-4 run as Portland led 34-21. At one point, Gonzaga had turnovers on three straight possessions.

The Bulldogs scored the last four points to trail 39-31 at half. The run continued in the second half with baskets by Dower and Stockton to cut the deficit to four.

Center Thomas van der Mars’ jump hook started a 14-2 run as Portland regained control at 53-37.

“They were flying around and beating us to pretty much every ball that was available,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “They played with way more energy and passion, which is what we had been doing in our first four conference games.”

Gonzaga trimmed the margin to nine on a couple of occasions but the Pilots were quick to respond. The Bulldogs were within seven after Drew Barham’s bank shot with just over 1 minute left, but Barham missed a free throw trying to complete the three-point play. Pressley and Wintering each hit two free throws to seal the win.

“Portland did a great job of making shots and flying around and basically outplaying us all night,” said Few, who is 27-2 against the Pilots.

Dower, who came off the bench for the third straight game, led Gonzaga with 14 points. Kevin Pangos, despite a subpar shooting night, finished with 12 points and six assists. Gerard Coleman and Przemek Karnowski each scored 11 points.

 

 

 


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