GAME NOTES: A couple of teams in the bottom half of the West Coast Conference standings are set to close out the regular season today, as the Pacific Tigers play host to the Portland Pilots at the Spanos Center.
Pacific enters the weekend in a tie with Santa Clara for eight in the WCC standings with a record of 5-12, following a dismal 70-53 loss to league- leading Gonzaga a few nights ago. The defeat was the fourth in a row for the Tigers.
Meanwhile, the Pilots have performed slightly better in conference in 2013-14, putting up seven wins in 17 chances, but still the squad is tied with San Diego for sixth in the standings with this final game remaining before the conference tournament. Portland also landed in the loss column on Thursday night as it was taken down by Saint Mary's-CA on the road, 70-61.
Portland won the first meeting of the season during the first few days of January at home by a score of 72-64, which means the all-time series now numbers 20-9 in favor of the Tigers.
Missing two of their key performers on Thursday night, the Pilots had to be commended for playing as hard as they did in the loss to the Gaels in Moraga. With leading scorer Kevin Bailey (16.5 ppg) and Alec Winterling (4.5 apg) both nursing leg injuries, the Pilots turned to Thomas van der Mars who erupted for 22 points and a game-high 17 rebounds, while Ryan Nicholas tacked on 13 points and eight boards in the loss. David Carr and Bryce Pressley responded with 10 points each.
Bailey, a 41.9 percent shooter from 3-point range, remains questionable for the time being, which means van der Mars is again the most likely substitute at the offensive end of the floor for the Pilots with his 13.2 ppg. While van der Mars was a beast on the glass Thursday and is averaging 7.1 rpg on the season, Nicholas (13.0 ppg) is actually the one who is more accustomed to taking the lead in the rebounding department with his 8.9 rpg.
Before one of the largest crowds in several years at the Spanos Center, the Tigers put up a fight against the Gonzaga Bulldogs Thursday night, but ended up in the loss column like so many other WCC opponents. Unfortunately for Pacific, the team didn't have a single player score in double figures, as the group converted a mere 30.9 percent from the field and 6-of-19 behind the 3- point line. T.J. Wallace managed to post nine points off the bench.
As the Tigers demonstrated against Gonzaga, they run with a balanced offense in which no one player is a star, generating a decent 73.0 ppg, although that doesn't always spell success for the program. Andrew Bock is at the top of the scoring chart with 11.3 ppg, followed by Tony Gill and Sama Taku with 11.1 and 10.9 ppg, respectively.
Even Portland does get back Bailey and Winterling for this final game of the regular season, they won't be operating at 100 percent, which means the Tigers should be favored that much more.
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