Game #9-430: San Diego Toreros at Portland PilotsFebruary 21, 2013 10:00 pm
It doesn't take very long to tell the Pilots have struggled to score the past couple of seasons. In fact, when they were mired in a six-game losing streak in the middle of the WCC season I was not alone in thinking the offense had actually gotten worse over the course of the season. Portland may have surpassed their 2011-12 win total of seven, but I really wondered if you could say 2012-13 was really an improvement.
As I see it a big reason for the offensive issues is that nobody wants to take an outside shot. When a Pilot is open at the superhoop arc he usually hesitates and passes off. Very few of them have the confidence to take shots, and because they don't take shots to begin with they can't make them and build their confidence up. It's a vicious cycle. Portland also has not had guards who can drive and slash to the basket. Kevin Bailey is very athletic and talented but since he broke his nose on the first weekend of WCC play he had to wear a mask, which also coincided with the losing streak. Coincidence? Probably, but he certainly wasn't at his best. Bryce Pressley has shown decent stretches but he's just a freshman. And starting point guard Derrick Rodgers has been more likely to distribute the ball rather than call his own number.
Opposing defenses know very little will come from the outside so they know they can focus on post players like forward Ryan Nicholas and center Thomas van der Mars and Riley Barker. It's not a stretch to see more double teams leads to fewer baskets.
With just three games left in the regular season the Pilots faced the San Diego Toreros needing a win to keep their chances of avoiding the 8 vs. 9 seed opening round game of the WCC tournament in Las Vegas. Fortunately San Diego was a winnable game for Portland. They would have to be on top of their game but it wasn't an impossible task.
The game started with USD keeping a lead of about three or four points over the first ten minutes. Unlike the Pilots the Toreros were not afraid to shoot, especially sophomore Johnny Dee. In just his second season he's become a player to watch when USD comes to town. The Pilots were making their shots as well, though, and the lead went back and forth the last 10 minutes of the first half, with Portland leading 31-27 at the break.
In the second half the it was Portland's turn to get out to a lead and have the Toreros chase them. Every time the Pilots extended the margin to five or six USD was able to score on the next possession, or get a stop and keep the game close. But after USD took a 57-56 lead with 3:25 to go, Portland regained the lead for good on a layup by Kevin Bailey, who was without his face mask and looking much better. He was fouled and missed the free throw, but two offensive rebounds extended the possession until Thomas van der Mars scored, making it a 59=57 game. A jump shot from Rodgers with 2 minutes to play and a putback from Nicholas in the last minute gave the Pilots a 64-59 lead. From there USD made some shots and fouled to stop the clock, but Portland held on for a very good 70-67 win.
There were several players who stood out in the box score. Derrick Rodgers took the most shots of any Portland player, going 6-10 from the field for 15 points. Kevin Bailey, freed of his mask, led everyone with 18 and Ryan Nicholas had 15, including some big baskets down the stretch. The best sight of all was van der Mars' 10 point, 10 rebound double-double. The whole team contributed to the win and looked ready to make a strong finish to the home season Saturday.
at PORTLAND 70, SAN DIEGO 67
SAN DIEGO 13-15 (6-7) -- C. Anderson 3-7 1-3 7; J. Dee 5-12 0-0 13; C. Manresa 5-8 2-3 12; K. Rancifer 5-9 1-2 12; J. Kok 1-1 1-1 3; D. Kramer 3-7 0-0 6; C. Miles 1-4 0-2 2; S. Fajemisin 1-1 6-6 8; J. Sinis 1-2 0-0 3; K. Stackhouse 0-1 1-3 1; T. Guidry 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 25-52 12-20 67.
PORTLAND 11-18 (4-10) -- D. Rodgers 6-10 3-4 15; T. van der Mars 4-8 2-2 10; B. Pressley 2-8 2-2 6; K. Bailey 5-9 7-9 18; R. Nicholas 5-7 5-10 15; K. Thieleke 3-7 0-0 6; T. Riley 0-0 0-0 0; J. Ehlers 0-0 0-0 0; J. Bailey 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 25-51 19-27 70.
Three-point goals: USD 5-16 (C. Miles 0-1; K. Rancifer 1-4; C. Anderson 0-1; J. Dee 3-7; J. Sinis 1-2; K. Stackhouse 0-1), PORT 1-7 (D. Rodgers 0-1; R. Nicholas 0-2; K. Bailey 1-2; B. Pressley 0-2); Rebounds: USD 25 (D. Kramer 6), PORT 36 (T. van der Mars 10); Assists: USD 14 (C. Anderson 6), PORT 5 (D. Rodgers 2); Total Fouls -- USD 19, PORT 16; Fouled Out: USD-None; PORT-None.