Portland starts strong, routs Santa Clara


Jan 3, 2015; Portland, OR, USA; Portland Pilots center Thomas van der Mars (12) shoots a layup while being defended by Gonzaga Bulldogs forward Domantas Sabonis (11) during the second half of the game at Earle A. Chiles Center. The Bulldogs won 87-75. Mandatory Credit: Godofredo Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Pilots came into this game without a road sweep in conference play. They can finally check that off of their list.

Portland (14-10, 5-7 WCC) came out strong and routed Santa Clara 74-54. Thomas van der Mars scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds as the Pilots shot 61.9%. Kevin Bailey and Bryce Pressley also matched van der Mars with 16 points apiece.

The size of the Pilots was too much for the Broncos, as Portland out-rebounded Santa Clara 34-21. The Broncos dominated the offensive glass 11-6, but they could not turn those efforts into points for most of the game because of the defensive pressure.

Tonight’s win gives Portland their first conference road sweep of the season after beating San Francisco on the road two days prior to this game. They are now half a game behind San Diego for fifth place in the West Coast Conference.

Santa Clara (11-14, 5-8 WCC) had only two players reach double figures. Brandon Clark led the way with 18 points, while Jared Brownridge added 10. The rest of the team scored nine field goals on 31 attempts (29.0%).

The loss puts Santa Clara half a game behind Portland in sixth place. It also marks their fourth loss in a row, tying their worst season high. Santa Clara previously had a four-game losing streak in November with losses to Utah State, #20 Michigan State, Tennessee, and Rhode Island before conference play started.


Portland hosts Pepperdine on Thursday.

Santa Clara travels to San Francisco on Thursday.