Seniors John Bailey, Tanner Riley and Korey Thieleke were in the starting line-up today, joining usual starters senior Ryan Nicholas and freshman Alec Wintering. This line up was mostly due to it being senior night, but also because leading scorer Kevin Bailey was sidelined with a calf injury.
Bailey and Riley played very sparingly this season but both were productive in their time on the floor tonight. Riley stepped up immediately and scored the Pilots first six points.
While Riley was lighting it up for the Pilots, no one was scoring for the Waves. It took nearly three minutes for Pepperdine to score a field goal.
Portland extended the lead to 10, 15-5, at the 13:50 mark after a pair of Tanner Riley free throws. Those two points were Riley's last of the game. He finished with 10 points in 15 minutes.
The Pilots maintained a multi-possession lead final minutes of the half. Brendan Lane knocked down two free throws to make it a 32-29 Portland lead. Ryan Nicholas answered with a three at the other end to extend the lead. Back-to-back lay-ups from Malcolm Brooks once again brought the Waves within two points.
Brooks' back-to-back buckets were worth two points each. Ryan Nicholas did better with back-to-back threes that kept the Waves from taking momentum into the locker room. He scored eight of his nine first half points in the final 2:05.
Portland scored first in the second but the Waves were rolling. A 6-0 Pepperdine run cut the Pilots' lead to three just over two minutes into the half. From there the teams traded blows and the Pilots lead hovered between three and seven points.
After the mid-way point the game really slowed down. The Waves went through a two and a half minute scoring drought. In that time the Pilots only scored three points.
The Pilots suffered a longer drought, from 6:34 to 2:41, in which the Waves scored only four points.
Thankfully for Portland, the offense began to click down the stretch. The Pilots' lead was ten at the one minute mark. I say thankfully because the referees started taking over the game with highly questionable calls, all of which went against the Pilots (two on forward Thomas van der Mars).
Korey Thieleke stole the ball from Malcolm Brooks. He missed a dunk on the break away and was forced to hang on the rim as his momentum swung him forward. Also, Brooks had been chasing him and was positioned underneath the basket as Thieleke hung.
A technical foul was assessed, as the refs decided Thieleke was taunting the Waves (remember, he missed the dunk, so obviously he has reason to taunt) rather than trying not to land flat on his back.
Malcolm Brooks hit both free throws and the Waves trailed by just eight. But, with 52 seconds left, they had to foul to stay in the game.
Thomas van der Mars and Ryan Nicholas hit all four free throws in the last minute. Down 12, Marty Wilson waived the white flag. Portland won 74-62.
With the win, the Pilots jumped the Waves in the WCC standings. Now in 5th place, Portland holds a one ad a half game lead over seventh place Pacific. Teams one through six receive a bye in the WCC tournament.
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