Early in the second half it looked like Portland was going to be handed another blowout loss by the No. 7 Gonzaga Bulldogs. Gonzaga held a 21 point lead after Przemek Karnowski made a three pointer. Yes, he attempted and made a three pointer with 10:29 left.
Portland dug deep and showed that they could score, defend, and rebound with the best of them, reeling off a 15-1 run to make Gonzaga sweat a little. The Pilots and Bulldogs played a contested final 6 minutes, and it wasn’t until a Portland turnover, followed by a Karnowski and-1 with about a minute to go that really sealed the win for Gonzaga.
Dec 20, 2014; Seattle, WA, USA; Gonzaga Bulldogs center Przemek Karnowski (24) waves to the crowd after a gum again the Cal Poly Mustangs at Key Arena. The Bulldogs won 63-50. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports
Gonzaga was led by a balanced attack of Karnowski and Kevin Pangos who both scored 21. The Pilots did hold Portland native Kyle Wiltjer to 8 points on 3-10 shooting but Gonzaga proved too deep for the Pilots.
There were some real bright spots for the Pilots as Alec Wintering again proved he is going to be a headache for WCC foes for the next couple of years scoring 20 points including 9 of 11 from the free throw line and not turning the ball over once. Thomas van der Mars came up big scoring 17 and grabbing 8 boards. Jason Todd again is extremely impressive and always seems to make the right play.
Also, Portland has played decently without Kevin Bailey over the past month, but the Pilots can’t wait for him to come back. Adding that scoring threat, that athleticism, will add a much-needed dimension to this team.
At this point Portland heads into an interesting stretch of their schedule. Portland’s next five games are vs. Santa Clara, vs. San Francisco, at LMU, at Pepperdine, and vs. Pacific. For the Pilots to threaten a top three WCC finish, they will need to win ALL of them. Winning 3 or 4 would be ok, but those losses can have a major impact on where the Pilots finish this season.
Gonzaga avenges last season’s loss to Portland (Mitch Krmpotich)
This game was important for Gonzaga because of last year’s loss to Portland. This game was a great indicator of how improved the Zags are with the newcomers and the health of the guards. Kevin Pangos was able to step up when the game was close. Last year this would have been tough for him because of his injury.
One problem that was highlighted in this game was foul trouble. Wiltjer had some early fouls that forced him to sit on the bench more than usual. Bell Jr. had foul trouble as well. As Gonzaga’s best defender, it is difficult for the Zags when he gets in foul trouble, especially since Portland shot such a high percentage in the second half.
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The game showed Gonzaga’s depth. Even though Wiltjer, the team’s leading scorer, didn’t put up the numbers he usually does, Karnowski stepped up in the post and Pangos had an excellent game as well. Both had 21 points. The Pilots played well and almost made an impressive comeback. Gonzaga cannot afford to underestimate any of their conference opponents.
Also, Karnowski’s three was incredible.