Portland ends 20-game losing streak to Gonzaga, dating back to 2003
The Pilots ended one of the longest and strangest streaks in college hoops.
I could do one of those ledes where I tell you how much gas cost at the time, what the No. 1 single was on the radio and how some TV show ruled the airwaves.
I won't do that. Just know it's been a really long time since the Portland Pilots beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs. More than 10 seasons. It was Feb. 19, 2003, the last time the Pilots upended the Zags. A 20-game losing streak. It's over. Finally. An exorcism was performed in Portland on Thursday night, when the Pilots controlled from tip to final buzzer, beating the Bulldogs 82-73.
"I always thought it might come when people weren't expecting it," Portland coach Eric Reveno said on TV afterward. "They played really hard, and when you do that, a lot of good things can happen."
The 20-game losing streak was one thing, but here's the incredible thing that came to an end: It was 17 wins a row at the Chiles Center for Gonzaga. Portland's home gym was never an obstacle for this team since 1996. That has to be one of the longest winning streaks for one team on an intra-conference opponent's home floor (Kansas once won 24 straight at K-State), and I'm guessing Gonzaga will never again win 16 in a row again at Portland.
Another streak fell for the 22nd-ranked Bulldogs on Thursday night. After winning 22 in a row in the West Coast Conference, that streak is now snapped.
The Pilots were 8-14 from 3 and shot 52 percent from the floor. It was 20 for 26 from the foul line, which mattered in the closing minutes, as many a made free throw prevented a Gonzaga run. Sophomore guard Bryce Pressley led the team with 16 points and nine assists.
Gonzaga was without starting shooting guard Gary Bell Jr. due to injury. Sam Dower, who has had back issues, came off the bench and led the Bulldogs with 14 points.
Gonzaga now has some profile concerns. Although it has lost only three games this season, its best wins are against Arkansas on a neutral court, at West Virginia, and home to New Mexico State. Those are all fringe tournament teams or average clubs overall. The West Coast Conference looks like a one-bid league this season, so Gonzaga will need its typical roll through the conference to give it a good shot at an OK seed two months down the road.
But we'll worry more about that later. This is about Portland, now 10-7, getting a victory that will last in the memories of just about every fan that made it to that game Thursday night. Really cool moment. Conference play, you are the best.
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