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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Portland provides homey feel for No. 7 Bulldogs

PORTLAND – Another West Coast Conference road game for Gonzaga, but it’ll feel like home for several Zags.

No. 7 Gonzaga finishes off a three-game road stretch to open the conference season against Portland tonight at the Chiles Center, where the Pilots handed GU one of its three WCC losses last year.

Gonzaga’s Kyle Wiltjer (Jesuit High), Silas Melson (Jefferson) and Connor Griffin (Lake Oswego) call Portland home. Walk-on Rem Bakamus, from nearby Longview, Washington, sprained his ankle during the holiday break and wasn’t with the team on GU’s 2-0 road swing against BYU and San Diego last week.

Wiltjer leads GU in scoring at 17.1 points per game. Melson averages 3.7 ppg. Griffin has played 33 minutes.

The Zags (13-1) had won 20 straight in the series before falling 82-73 last season in Portland.

Last week the Pilots (10-4, 1-1) beat San Diego on Alec Wintering’s last-second 3-pointer and lost at BYU 97-88, despite Wintering’s 30 points. The Pilots have suffered overtime losses to Oregon State and UNLV.

Portland has one of the WCC’s better frontcourts, featuring 6-foot-11 seniors Thomas van der Mars (10.6 ppg, 7.5 rebounds), Volodymur Gerun (10.6 ppg, 6.4 rpg) and Riley Barker (5.1 ppg, 5.5 rpg). Wintering has made a big jump in his sophomore season, lifting his scoring average from 7.7 to 12.9. Kevin Bailey, a talented 6-5 wing, averages 13.1 points, but he’s missed the last seven games with a foot injury.

Portland is third in the WCC in scoring offense (73.3), rebounding margin (7.3) and 3-point percentage (38.6).

GU ranks in the top four in 23 WCC statistical categories and the top two in 17.

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