The final game of the opening day of conference play in the West Coast Conference was full of drama as a late comeback pushed the Portland Pilots past the San Diego Toreros 61-58 on Saturday. After trailing 58-52 with under three minutes left, the Pilots went on a 9-0 run to finish the game highlighted by a go-ahead three pointer by Alec Wintering with 0.3 seconds left.Nov 18, 2013; East Lansing, MI, USA; Portland Pilots guard Alec Wintering (2) shoots the ball against the Michigan State Spartans during the first half at Jack Breslin Student Events Center. Mandatory Credit: Mike Carter-USA TODAY Sports
Wintering was one of four Pilots in double figures led by D’Marques Tyson and Volodymyr Gerun with 13 points each. Gerun had a double-double adding a game-high 14 points to his total. Senior Kevin Bailey missed his 5th straight game with plantar fasciitis.
Three Toreros hit double figures led by Chris Anderson who had 14 points but an uncharacteristically low 2 assists. He had entered the game averaging 7.5 assists per game. Johnny Dee struggled being held to just 11 points after going most of the the first half without a point. He is now 27 points away from becoming San Diego’s all-time career scoring leader.
With the win, Portland improves to 10-3 overall and 1-0 in WCC play. They have won three straight. San Diego falls to 7-6 overall and 0-1 in WCC play. The loss snaps a three game winning streak. These two teams have played to one score outcomes in their last three games. Last year the Toreros won by two points in both matchups.
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Portland Three Point Shooting: 57.1 %
San Diego Three Point Shooting: 11.1%
The contrast in long range shooting was noticeable all night with the Pilots going 8-14 from beyond the arc compared to 1-9 for the Toreros. It looked like San Diego would escape with a win despite the disparity in three point shooting, but it was appropriate that Wintering buried the dagger to win it for the Pilots while also upping their three point shooting numbers. It was a very evenly matched game in most aspects including near identical field goal percentages of 37% for Portland and 37.1% for San Diego. You can look directly at the three point shooting as the big difference maker even beyond the huge one by Wintering at the end.
PLAYER OF THE GAME
VOLODYMYR GERUN, PORTLAND: Tempting to make it Wintering after the huge shot that will get all the glory, but Gerun was the best player on the court for either team. His inside play was dominant at times, and he’s the reason why the Pilots were in the game the whole way. He was strong on both ends of the floor with game-highs in both offensive and defensive rebounds, and it was needed as Thomas Van Der Mars had a below-average night with just 2 points and 7 rebounds.
Wintering had the big shot and the three point shooting was huge, but Gerun was consistently good all night and won the battle inside for the Pilots that allowed the long range shooting to be such a big factor. It was especially felt during the big 9-0 run to finish the game. During the run, Gerun had 6 rebounds along with 2 points and 1 assist. The Pilots don’t complete the comeback without his impact.
San Diego must regroup quickly after a devastating loss. In less than 48 hours they host Gonzaga on Monday with the #8 Bulldogs coming off a confidence building win at BYU on Saturday. Portland meanwhile will hope to take this momentum into a very tough road game against BYU on Monday. One thing both teams will have going for them is their upset ability. The Toreros shocked the Bulldogs in the Jenny Craig Pavilion last season, while Portland beat the Cougars in triple overtime at Portland in one of the most exciting WCC games last season.