San Diego and Portland Face Off to Decide 5th Place


It’s a winner-take-all battle for 5th place in the West Coast Conference on Saturday when the San Diego Toreros visit the Portland Pilots. Both teams enter the game with identical 7-10 conference records, so the winner of this final game will take 5th place outright. The loser falls to 6th and could fall even further depending on tiebreaker scenarios with both San Francisco and Santa Clara one game back currently. So the pressure to win this one will be felt by both teams.

San Diego Toreros (14-15, 7-10) at Portland Pilots (16-13, 7-10)

When: Saturday, February 28th at 1:00 pm Pacific

Where: Chiles Center, Portland campus (Portland, OR)

Video: Time Warner Cable SportsNet, ROOT,

Live Stats: Stats Broadcast

Meet the Teams

San Diego

It’s a bit of a frustrating situation for the Toreros to have to be fighting for 5th in a tough road game to end the regular season. They have been playing well enough recently to deserve much better. They have gotten red hot in the second half of WCC play including scoring upset wins over BYU and Peppperdine. But they have hit a stretch of extremely tough opponents recently as they had to host Saint Mary’s followed by road games at BYU and Gonzaga. They pushed the Gaels to double overtime, but they have not pulled off another upset leading to a three game losing streak that has allowed Portland to catch them.

The Toreros have built their success this season on defense. Their offense is often lacking, but they can drag teams into slower paced games that allows them to stay in it even without much scoring. They are happy to score 55-65 points while hoping to hold their opponent to a few points less. It can be very effective as we saw in the first half against Gonzaga on Thursday, but better teams eventually break through at which point the Toreros can’t keep up. But against a team like Portland that has struggled at times, this formula can work.

Both teams boast excellent guard play, so the big matchup will be inside. Assuming both teams shoot at about the same rate, the better team in the frontcourt will have the advantage with more points in the paint and better rebounding. This could go either way. The Toreros don’t have much offense inside, but they have some stifling defense led by Jito Kok, the best shot blocker in the conference. Brandon Perry adds a large presence inside, and combined with the tenacious rebounding of Thomas Jacobs, the Toreros have a good chance at shutting down the struggling the Thomas Van der Mars and other Portland big men. If they can do that, Johnny Dee and company should have enough offense to support the defense and pull out a close victory.


The Pilots have struggled recently after hitting a tough stretch. They have lost three in a row including a very bad OT loss to Pacific that has them in this situation of being tied with the Toreros. Volodymyr Gerun and Thomas Van der Mars have been very quiet on the inside recently which has forced the Pilots to rely heavily on the trio of Bryce Pressley, Kevin Bailey, and Alec Wintering. Bailey in particular has had too much pressure on him to produce having taken a whopping 36 field goal attempts over the last two games.

The Pilots can bang inside and should rebound well, but the defense of San Diego will lead to a lack off points in the paint. The Pilots can shoot their way to victory, but not if they have to rely so heavily on long range shooting the entire game. If this becomes another game where Bailey must do everything, the Toreros will have a great shot to win it. Of course, it could go the way of many games where teams rely on shooting where the Pilots get hot. Their trio of guards all are excellent scorers, and they could overwhelm San Diego even without help from the interior. How well the Pilots are shooting could decide this game.


This one will be tough to predict as both teams have a lot to play for. The Toreros are even better than the team that forced the Pilots to mount a major comeback to win their last meeting, and their defensive prowess could very effectively shut down both the shooters and big men of Portland. On the other hand, they could struggle in a tough road environment and allow the Pilots to hit too many shots and roll to victory. One team could win this by double digits, or it could be a barn burner.

With the way the Toreros played in the first meeting, you have to give them a slight edge here. The Pilots should be ineffective inside against the strong defense of San Diego, and the guards should also struggle. Perhaps not as much as the bigs, but enough to where the Toreros can win it with their limited firepower. The Toreros open up a tight game in the final 10 minutes, and this time the Pilots cannot complete the comeback.