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Zags stay perfect in WCC play with 85-74 victory over Portland

Gonzaga's three point defense, long their Achilles' heel, held the hot shooting Pilots in check and pushed the Zags to the top of the WCC standings.

Gonzaga's Josh Perkins drives around Portland's Jason Todd
Gonzaga's Josh Perkins drives around Portland's Jason Todd
James Snook-USA TODAY Sports

The Zags rode their bigs, and a big defensive effort on the perimeter, to a 85-74 victory over the Pilots to stay unbeaten in WCC play.

On the offensive end it was once again the duo of Kyle Wiltjer (32 points) and Domantas Sabonis (28 points, 17 rebounds) who led the way for Gonzaga. But it was a stellar defensive effort against one of the most trigger happy teams in the nation that let Gonzaga control the game.

Entering tonight Portland ranked 20th in the nation in percentage of points scored from three point range. Gonzaga held the Pilots without a made three for the first 21 minutes of the game.

It was the Pilots dynamic point guard Alec Wintering (27 points, 6 assists) who netted the first three for Portland, but by that point it was too late. Portland finished four of 20 from long range. Kyle Wiltjer alone finished six of nine from deep.

Gonzaga set the tone early by scoring their first ten points in the paint. Portland kept up early with good shooting and getting to the free throw line, but the Pilots couldn't keep up for long. Tied at eight-all with just under four minutes played the Pilots went ice cold. They failed to score again for over six minutes.

But Gonzaga's offense didn't do much to capitalize on the Portland drought.

The Zags scored just seven points in that time and missed eight consecutive shots. Gonzaga started the game five of seven from the floor, but followed that start with a two of 17 run. They ended the first half having shot 13 of 34.

Portland tried to stage a late comeback, hitting eight of their final 13 shots. But Gonzaga was equally impressive down the stretch, going five of eight and seeing Sabonis, Wiltjer and Josh Perkins earn multiple trips to the free throw line where they converted.

Gonzaga improves to 13-3 on the season and is 5-0 in West Coast Conference play. The win, coupled with a loss from Saint Mary's earlier today, gives Gonzaga the top spot in the conference standings. Meanwhile Portland falls to 8-10 on the season and 2-3 in conference play.