No. 18 Gonzaga defeats Portland 93-78
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—After falling behind Portland in the first half, Gonzaga switched up its defense in the second. As a result, the 18th-ranked Bulldogs were able to pull away from the Pilots for a 93-78 victory on Thursday night.
“I thought we cranked it up defensively. We changed our defense around and threw something at them that we hadn’t tried in a while,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
Matt Bouldin scored 26 points for Gonzaga (17-4, 8-0 West Coast Conference), which won its ninth straight, while Jeremy Pargo had 22 points.
It was the Bulldogs’ 12th consecutive win over the Pilots (15-8, 6-2).
T.J. Campbell and Nik Raivio had 19 points each for Portland, which had won its last six games and could have gained a share of the conference lead with a victory.
“After losing this game we realized we still have a whole half of conference play left,” Raivio said. “We can’t get too high after a win and we can’t get too low after a loss.”
Going to a zone defense, Gonzaga ultimately led by as many as 17 points in the second half. The Pilots only briefly threatened by pulling within 79-73 on Ethan Niedermeyer’s 3-pointer.
Austin Daye added 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Bulldogs.
Gonzaga defeated Portland 67-50 to open WCC play on Jan. 10. The Pilots had not lost since, including an 84-66 victory over then-No. 18 Saint Mary’s on Saturday. It was Portland’s first victory over a ranked opponent since 1981.
“Coming into this game, over the last two or three weeks, I don’t think anybody was playing better offense that Portland,” Few said. “So we switched our zone up a little bit and that got our feet back under us, and that got our break going.”
Raivio had 27 points against Saint Mary’s. Against Gonzaga, 17 of his 19 points came in the first half.
Raivio is the younger brother of former Gonzaga guard Derek Raivio. Their father, Rick Raivio, remains Portland all-time leader in rebounds and is fourth in scoring. He is member of e school’s basketball Hall of Fame.
Gonzaga opened the second half with Micah Downs’ layup, Pargo’s 3-pointer and Josh Heytvelt’s two free throws to take a 49-43 lead.
It was short-lived, however, as Portland tied it again at 49 on Luke Sikma’s 3-pointer and Robin Smeulders’ free throws.
The Bulldogs went on an 11-3 run capped by Boudin’s reverse layup that made it 60-52. Heytvelt punctuated the run by blocking Smeulders on the other end.
“We came out a little lethargic in the first half, and we really didn’t get things done the way we were supposed to get them done,” Pargo said.
Smuelders had 16 points and 11 rebounds for Portland.
Gonzaga had five players in double figures, including Pargo with 22 and Heytvelt with 15.
Portland’s six-game winning streak was its longest since it opened the 1995-96 season 6-0.