Portland pulls upset of No. 22 Gonzaga
PORTLAND — Bryce Pressley had 16 points and nine assists and scrappy Portland beat No. 22 Gonzaga 82-73 on Thursday night, snapping a 20-game losing streak in the series between the two teams.
The loss also snapped the Bulldogs' 22-game winning streak in West Coast Conference games.
The last time Portland (10-7, 2-3) beat Gonzaga at home was in 1996 and the Pilots' last victory in the series came in 2003 in Spokane. Portland had not defeated a ranked opponent since 2009 against then-No. 22 Minnesota.
Gonzaga (14-3, 4-1) had won four straight to open the conference season after a 72-62 loss to Kansas State on Dec. 21. Playing in their first league game away from home, the Bulldogs were coming off an 86-54 victory over Pacific last Saturday. The Zags won their first four conference games by an average margin of victory of 21.5 points, and they'd held their last six opponents to less than 62 points.
However, the Pilots (10-7, 2-3) were determined from the start, stretching their lead to 17 points in the second half.
Back-to-back jumpers from Riley Barker and Bryce Pressley put the tenacious Pilots up 49-37 with 15:26 left. Portland pushed the lead to 53-37 on Kevin Bailey's falling-down jumper and a free throw — and Gonzaga appeared to be pressing.
Gerard Coleman's layup and two free throws narrowed it to 76-65 for the Bulldogs before Drew Barham's layup made it 78-71 with 1:05. However, Portland held off the Zags as time wound down and Portland's purple-clad fans rushed the court in celebration.
Alec Wintering had 14 points for the Pilots and Bailey added 13.
Sam Dower led Gonzaga with 14 points off the bench.
The Pilots were coming off a 72-63 loss to St. Mary's. The game against Gonzaga wrapped up a five-game conference homestand for the Pilots.
Portland is now 7-54 all-time against ranked opponents. Earlier this season the Pilots fell 82-67 at then-No. 1 Michigan State.
Portland jumped out to an early 11-5 lead, paced by Bailey with six points, but Kevin Pangos hit a 3-pointer and Angel Nunez dunked to narrow it for the Zags.
It was as close as they could get, and Portland stretched the lead to 20-13 after a pair of free throws from Bailey. With all the momentum on their side, the Pilots pushed the lead to 30-19 following Pressley's layup.
The Zags looked like they were caught off guard by Portland's energy and trailed 39-31 at the half.
Gonzaga's 7-foot-1 center Przemek Karnowski battled the flu earlier this week but started. The Bulldogs remain without guard Gary Bell, who broke his hand against Santa Clara on Dec. 28 and is expected to be out up to six weeks.