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Portland Takes Down #22 Gonzaga 82-73

Portland was on a twenty game losing streak to Gonzaga entering tonight. The students are still off campus for winter break, but the Chiles Center was rocking as the Pilots led from horn to horn.

Gonzaga Prep product Ryan Nicholas finally gets a victory over Gonzaga.
Gonzaga Prep product Ryan Nicholas finally gets a victory over Gonzaga.

Due to their proximity, these two teams are travel partners during conference play. Only 350 road miles separate Spokane and Portland. For Gonzaga fans who can't get tickets to see games at the perpetually sold out Kennel, which is nearly all of them, the Chiles Center is a viable option. That, coupled with a lack of students on campus, meant the crowd was nearly split 50/50.

The Pilots immediately silenced half of the crowd by stealing the Zags' style of play. By the first media timeout, Portland was up 11-5, had made four of six shots including both three point attempts.

Gonzaga came out of the timeout strong, but the Pilots kept on rolling. The Zags started the game shooting 2-10, but they closed out the half making 10 of their final 19 shots. However, the Pilots made one more on two less attempts. From three, Portland was five of seven.

If the Pilots make six threes in a game everyone in attendance gets free hot wings.

Gonzaga came roaring out of the break, scoring the first two baskets of the half. That was about as ferocious as they would get for the remainder of the game.

The Pilots led by as many as 16 and had a double figure cushion for nearly the entire second half. A monster dunk by Korey Thieleke near the eight minute sent the fans into a frenzy. They got even louder at 7:05 when Bryce Pressley hit the hot wing winning three pointer. The next two Portland baskets were also threes. Gonzaga was down and nearly out.

A frantic late game rally by the Zags, in which they displayed hustle for the first time all night, cut the lead to single digits. However, the officials kept interrupting the Zags' momentum. Angel Nunez and Drew Barham both fouled out in the final minutes of a half that saw each team reach the double-bonus.

Portland played a then #1 ranked Michigan State squad in East Lansing early in the season and hung around for nearly the whole game. Tonight they made up for that missed opportunity by taking down the #22 ranked Gonzaga Bulldogs for the first time in over a decade.

The victory called for a much deserved and long awaited court storm.