More than 50 text messages appeared on Portland coach Eric Reveno’s phone after the Pilots knocked off visiting Gonzaga last month.
“It’s a different era nowadays,” Reveno said. “We didn’t have a Saturday game so it was different not having to turn the page quickly. I walked back into the locker room and six guys are sitting there and everyone is on their phones.”
The Pilots (13-10, 5-6) handed the Bulldogs (20-3, 10-1) their only WCC loss. The rematch is tonight and Portland has Gonzaga’s undivided attention.
“I guess that comes with the deal but we’ll be prepared,” said Reveno, who cracked, “I was hoping they would overlook us and be looking toward Memphis (on Saturday).”
Comments from Gonzaga players and coaches suggest otherwise.
“They handed it to us at their place,” senior forward Sam Dower Jr. said. “They played exceptional.”
“It was miserable, hated every minute of it,” senior forward Drew Barham said. “As soon as we finished we said we can’t wait to play them here.”
The Pilots had five players in double figures, led by as many as 17 and made 52 percent of their shots – the only GU opponent to shoot above 49 percent this season.
“Everything needs to change, our effort, energy, attention to detail, our purpose,” coach Mark Few said. “Our guards were just dribbling the ball in and basically punting with no plan at all. I don’t want to take anything away from Portland. They outplayed us.”
No. 23 Gonzaga has a three-game lead in the loss column over San Francisco, BYU and Saint Mary’s with seven confer- ence games remaining, including road dates with BYU and Saint Mary’s.
During the 2011 season, Gonzaga trailed Saint Mary’s by three games with eight left to play. The Bulldogs caught up with an 89-85 overtime win over the Gaels in Moraga, Calif., as then-redshirt freshman Dower hit four late free throws and scored 21 points. GU and the Gaels shared the league title.
“We can’t take anything for granted,” Dower said. “A three-game lead doesn’t mean it’s time to let our guard down. It means it’s time to pick things up.”