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Sports >  Gonzaga basketball

Gonzaga-Portland key matchup: Former WSU guard Ahmed Ali flying high with Pilots

Jan. 8, 2021 Updated Fri., Jan. 8, 2021 at 10:17 p.m.

Gonzaga will run into a name familiar to Inland Northwest hoops followers when its visits Portland on Saturday at the Chiles Center.

The Pilots are led by Ahmed Ali, who started 24 games and averaged 7.3 points at Washington State in coach Ernie Kent’s last season (2019). The well-traveled, 5-foot-11, 170-pound guard sat out last season at Hawaii due to injuries before transferring to Portland.

Ali had back-to-back games with 28 and 26 points in victories over Portland State and Oregon State, part of a five-game winning streak that was the program’s longest in over a decade. The Toronto native averages 18.4 points, 3.3 rebounds and 3.0 assists. He’s shooting 47.4% from the field, 32.7% from deep and 84% at the free-throw line. He makes a habit of getting the charity stripe with 69 attempts, doubling his next closest teammate.

The Pilots (6-4, 0-1 WCC) rely on Ali’s scoring and play-making ability. In six wins, he’s averaging 22.2 points and shooting 52%. In four losses, his stats drop to 12.8 points and 37.8%.

Jalen Suggs likely will draw the defensive assignment on Ali, who will have to contend with a variety of defenders when the Zags choose to switch on screens.

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