No. 14 Gonzaga aiming to continue dominance of Portland

no.-14-gonzaga-aiming-to-continue-dominance-of-portland

After a weeklong break, No. 14 Gonzaga will return to action when it travels to face Portland on Saturday night in Portland, Ore.

The Bulldogs (17-4, 6-1 West Coast Conference) are looking to build some momentum heading into the final month of the regular season after securing a 99-90 win at Pacific last Saturday.

Gonzaga bounced back after having a 75-game home winning streak snapped by Loyola Marymount.

Drew Timme rebounded from what he felt was a subpar effort in that defeat by scoring a career-high 38 points against Pacific, including 24 in the second half. At one point, Timme scored 18 consecutive points for Gonzaga, dominating in the paint.

Timme’s performance was enough to help the Bulldogs avoid back-to-back conference losses for the first time since 2014.

“You’ve just got to do what it takes to win, obviously,” Timme said. “I didn’t have the game I saw fit the other night, and it’s all about how you bounce back and respond to adversity.”

But once again, it wasn’t the Gonzaga defense’s finest hour against Pacific, which continues to be a reason for the Bulldogs’ struggles at times this season.

Gonzaga ranks 89th in the nation in adjusted defensive efficiency this season, according to KenPom.com, which is its lowest ranking since 2006. Pacific had five players score in double figures and shot 47.6 percent from the field.

“(Timme) delivered. We needed him to,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said. “We definitely won with our offense tonight. It wasn’t our defense that won that game.”

Gonzaga has won 15 in a row against Portland (11-12, 3-5), including a 115-75 win at home on Jan. 14, and is 42-2 against the Pilots during Few’s tenure as Bulldogs’ coach.

The Pilots aimed to limit Timme by stuffing the paint in their last meeting. The strategy opened things up for Gonzaga’s shooters to hit 17 three-pointers, led by Malachi Smith’s seven triples and 27 points. Portland’s 19 turnovers didn’t help and nullified its best efforts on the offensive end.

“We turned the ball over a bunch, and all those turnovers led to baskets on the other end. Lots of 3s, and a lot of easy shots,” Portland coach Shantay Legans said after that game.

Led by the trio of Moses Wood (14.8 points per game), Tyler Robertson (14.2) and Kristian Sjolund (12.5), Portland ranks in the top 35 nationally in 3-point shooting.

Against Gonzaga the first time, the Pilots made 11 of 33 attempts from beyond the arc, and they nearly knocked off Michigan State earlier this season in a game in which they made 13 of 29 3-point attempts.

Portland is coming off a 79-60 loss to Loyola Marymount on Thursday night in a game that slipped away when the Lions went on a 24-2 run over an eight-minute stretch of the second half. Wood led Portland with 15 points and eight rebounds.

The game marked the first for assistant coach Bobby Suarez as Portland’s associate head coach. He was promoted earlier this week, a year after helping the Pilots win 19 games and secure their first postseason win in the first round of The Basketball Classic.

“Bobby is a rising star in our industry,” Legans said in a press release. “He is an extremely hard worker, elite recruiter and a great offensive tactician. More importantly, he gets the most out of our players.”

–Field Level Media

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