Portland looks for first conference road sweep at Santa Clara


Jan 29, 2015; Spokane, WA, USA; Portland Pilots guard Bryce Pressley (1) drives the lane against Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Byron Wesley (22) during the first half at McCarthey Athletic Center. Mandatory Credit: James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

Portland ended their non-conference season with a 9-3 record and realistic hopes of finishing in the upper half of the West Coast Conference. Ever since then, they are 4-7 and are trying to stay out of last place in the conference standings.

After being down 36-33 at halftime at San Francisco, Portland (13-10, 4-7 WCC) came back and beat the Dons 69-57 Thursday night. With a win at Santa Clara on Saturday, the Pilots would complete their first conference road sweep of the season.

The road has not been friendly for the Pilots, however. Before Thursday night’s win against San Francisco, Portland had just one conference road win. That win came from a big comeback at San Diego on December 27th. If the Pilots want to have a chance to win this game, they will need to be play at a high level for 40 minutes.

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Portland has three players that average double figures. Alec Wintering, Kevin Bailey, and Thomas van der Mars will all need to score in double figures to handle the tough road environment.

Santa Clara (11-13, 5-7 WCC) is coming off of a 77-63 home loss to #2 Gonzaga on Thursday. The Broncos found their offensive rhythm in the first half, and even had a 36-34 over the Zags at halftime. If they want to get revenge from their January 8th rout at Portland, they will need to establish an offensive rhythm that will last both halves.

Brandon Clark and Jared Brownridge lead the Broncos in scoring, so they will need to have big games if they want to defend their home court.

This game should have a fair amount of offense. Portland’s size will wear down Santa Clara, so expect Portland to pull away and get the win.

The game tips off at 5:00PM PST Saturday and can be seen on TheW.tv.