No. 15 Gonzaga defeats Portland 95-79
PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Killian Tillie had a big night against Portland. Now his coach wants to see him do it again the next game.
Tillie had 27 points and seven rebounds, and No. 15 Gonzaga cruised to a 95-79 victory on Thursday night.
Developing consistency is key to the sophomore forward’s development, Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. He’d like to see the same strong performance at home on Saturday against San Francisco.
“He can really do some things, but I just told him in the locker room tonight, he needs to follow it up,” Few said.
“Of course,” he said. “Usually when I get good games like that, I get bad games after. So I’ve got to be more consistent and have more of these games.”
Corey Kispert added a season-high 23 points and 10 rebounds for the Bulldogs (18-4, 8-1 West Coast Conference), who won their 20th straight conference road game.
It was Gonzaga’s 10th straight win over the Pilots (8-14, 2-7). The Bulldogs are 27-2 against Portland under Few.
Freshman Marcus Shaver Jr. had 16 points for the Pilots (8-14, 2-7), who trailed by as many as 28 points in the second half.
Portland went into the game with a two-game winning streak after losing it first six conference games. The Pilots got road wins against San Diego and Loyola Marymount last week.
“We didn’t do a good job offensively at times, and they took us out of some things,” Portland coach Terry Porter said. “And they just owned us on the boards. When we did have good defensive possessions, they were able to get offensive rebounds. Really kind of hurt us.”
Gonzaga outrebounded Portland 40-25.
The Bulldogs stumbled last week, falling 74-71 at home against St. Mary’s, but rebounded from their lone conference loss with a 75-60 win at Santa Clara. Gonzaga fell two spots in the AP Top 25 as a result of the loss.
Gonzaga opened with a 3-pointer from Josh Perkins and built an early 12-3 lead while the young Pilots struggled, going 1 of 5 from the field. Tillie’s dunk stretched the Bulldogs’ lead to 36-16 with 4:04 left in the half.
The Zags, boosted by a crowd that appeared equally divided between Gonzaga and Portland fans, led 46-30 at the half. Tillie led all scorers with 13 points, and his final total matched his season high.
Gonzaga had eight 3-pointers in the first half, and finished with 11.
Gonzaga stretched the lead to 22 points in the second half after Kispert’s layup and free throw. Portland, with three freshmen starters, simply could not keep up. Pilots 7-foot-2 center Philipp Hartwich fouled out with just over six minutes to go.
“I thought by and large that we were really good on offense all night and we had enough stretches on defense to give us some separation,” Few said.
The Zags won the first game of the series 103-57 in Spokane on Jan. 11. Silas Melson had 23 points including seven 3-pointers.
Gonzaga: Melson has 80 points against Portland over his career. ... Gonzaga’s last visit to Portland was for the PK80 invitational. The Zags beat Ohio State before falling to then-No. 7 Florida in double-overtime, then beat Texas in OT over the Thanksgiving holiday.
Portland: The Pilots’ last victory over the Zags was in 2014, an 82-73 upset in Portland. ... The Pilots are young, with just two seniors on the roster.
ASSESSING THE SEASON
Few said he is happy with where his team is, midway through the conference schedule.
“At the turn, 8-1 is pretty good,” he said. “Obviously we lost one we didn’t want to lose the other night at home. But 8-1 at the turn, and we’ve got a bunch of tough games in the second half of the league.”
Gonzaga returns home to host San Francisco on Saturday.
It doesn’t get any easier for Portland, which visits No. 16 St. Mary’s this weekend.