With 5:18 left in the first half David Stockton made his second 3-pointer in a row and Portland went down by 22. At that point, the game could have gone one of two ways. It could have stayed where it was and Portland would have left the Kennel with yet another 20+ point loss, or the Pilots could buckle down defensively, and start a comeback. Over the next 20 minutes, Portland reeled off a 43-17 run to take a 4 point lead.
Sam Dower scored 6 straight points, and Stockton made a pair of free throws (on a pretty weak call but that’s neither here nor there) followed by his 3rd three and Gonzaga was quickly up 5. The bulldogs hit free throws down the stretch, and Portland wasn’t able to make up enough ground in the end.
It was another entertaining game for the Pilots but it really didn’t start off that way. When Portland was trailing by 23, the truth of the matter is that we (Portland fans) have been there frequently over the past 15 years. But this team started to turn it around. They started taking care of the ball, and made a couple of easy baskets. Nicholas came up big and the team followed his lead. Guys came off the bench because of foul trouble throughout the team, and they played focused basketball, contributing where they could.
Look it was a far from perfect game. There were stretches that were really really good. There were also stretches that were pretty terrible. But this team pushed through and challenged the top team in the league, a team that is ranked in the top 25, a team that has lost only 3 times ever to WCC teams in the Kennel. You hate to take moral victories when they are accompanied with losses, but this shows the trend for Portland.
Splitting the season with Gonzaga, winning by 9 at home, losing by 5 on the road, is something to be proud of.