Pilots recover, but not all way

Portland feels better about losing to Gonzaga this time
By Cliff Pfenning, Oregonsports.com

PORTLAND - The loss to Gonzaga wasn't so painful this time, even though it came with the same message for the Portland Pilots.

"We just have to be a lot tougher," said freshman guard Marcus Shaver, Jr. "And that's on each one of us, individually to work on that."

Portland responded to an absolute thrashing at the hands of the Bulldogs, Jan. 11, with a workman-like 95-79 loss before a spirited crowd of 4,557 at the Chiles Center Thursday night in West Coast Conference men's basketball action.

Shaver led the Pilots with 16 points, and backcourt mate D'Marques Tyson added 15 points as the Pilots kept pace with their 15th-ranked opponents and tried to forget the 103-57 loss from the first meeting.

They'd have done a lot better by not getting outrebounded 15-5 on the offensive end, or having the Zags hit 35 of 64 shots from the field, including 11 three-pointers. Three Bulldogs scored in double figures led by Killian Tillie with 27 points. Tillie hit 11 of 14 shots, grabbed seven rebounds and even handed out a pair of assists as Gonzaga improved to 18-4, 8-1 in WCC play. The Bulldogs made sure not to overlook the Pilots by leading 46-30 at the half, a week after losing their lone conference game in Spokane to St. Mary's, 74-71.

"We had a good game, did a lot of things the way we want to," Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. "We play in a tough conference, and know not to take anyone lightly. Last week's loss was a good reminder of that, especially at home."

Portland dropped to 8-14, 2-7, with a game at St. Mary's Saturday in Moraga, Calif., just East of Oakland.

The loss ended a two-game win streak for the Pilots.

Portland put up a solid performance in the first half, but still wound up trailing 46-30 after 20 minutes, due in significant part to Tillie's 13 points, highlighted by three baskets after offensive rebounds. Gonzaga made eight of its 16 three-point attempts, led 10-2 in assists, and shot 18-of-33 overall from the field.

Once the lead hit double digits, the outcome was largely decided. Few played forward Rui Hachimura, widely considered the team's most promising NBA Draft pick in summer, just 12 minutes, which resulted in one field goal.

Portland got a sturdy performance from 7-foot-2, senior, center Phillipp Hartwich, who scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting, and battled for five rebounds. The Pilots finished with five offensive rebounds, although two were the kind that got swatted out of bounds - team rebounds.

Sophomore Josh McSwiggan added nine points and four rebounds for Portland, which finished the second half 49-49 with Gonzaga.

Portland has eight games remaining after Saturday leading into the conference tournament, March 1-6 in Las Vegas.