PORTLAND, Ore. — Portland’s long drought against perennial West Coast Conference power Gonzaga ended in convincing fashion Thursday as the Pilots stunned the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs, 82-73, at Chiles Center.
Portland put a halt to a slew of streaks in the wire-to-wire surprise.
The Pilots (10-7, 2-3 WCC) upended the Bulldogs for the first time in nearly 10 years, recorded their first home victory against them since 1996 and snapped Gonzaga’s 22-game conference winning streak.
They did it behind a scorching 51.9 percent shooting effort and five double- digit scorers. Bryce Pressley led the way with 16 points, Alec Wintering added 14, Kevin Bailey netted 13 and Bobby Sharp and Thomas van der Mars checked in with 12 and 11 points, respectively.
Sam Dower paced Gonzaga (14-3, 4-1) with 14 points, while Kevin Pangos added 12 in the rare league setback. The Bulldogs came in as the nation’s best 3- point shooting team at 44.3 percent, but made just 4-of-15 (26.7 percent) from long range in front of a mixed crowd.
Portland, which had dropped three of its first four WCC tests, showed right from the opening tip it wasn’t going to be a usual cakewalk for the Bulldogs, as the Pilots scored on their first five possessions in jumping out to an 11-3 lead.
An 11-2 stretch later in the opening half stretched the Pilots’ lead to 34-21, though Gonzaga scored eight consecutive points spanning the two halves to cut its deficit to 39-35.
The Pilots took the blow and responded in kind with 14 of the next 16 points to regain control. Bailey capped the flurry by rebounding his own miss and putting it back while being fouled. The ensuing free throw with 13:46 left had Portland on top, 53-37, and the closest Gonzaga got from there was seven.
Pressley and Sharp hit from behind the arc on consecutive possessions for a 69-52 Portland lead with just over six minutes to play, and even though there were plenty of Gonzaga fans in attendance, the Portland student body justifiably rushed the floor at the sound of the final buzzer.