GAME NOTES: The BYU Cougars have won two games in a row, and are coming off a thrilling defeat of No. 25-ranked Gonzaga, as they get set to host the Portland Pilots in a West Coast Conference showdown at the Marriott Center.
Portland had a two-game win streak come to an end Thursday against San Diego, 61-59. The Pilots have lost four of their last seven games, and find themselves sitting on a 7-8 record in the West Coast Conference.
BYU has won two straight and six of the team's last seven games, including the 73-65 victory over ranked Gonzaga Thursday night. The Cougars gained a game on the Bulldogs in the conference standings, and now stand at 11-5 in the WCC.
BYU already has a firm grip on the all-time series with Portland, 9-1, but that one Pilots' win came earlier this season in a 114-110 triple-overtime bout back on Jan. 23.
Portland owned a 10-point lead early in the contest with San Diego, but saw it slowly dissolve in the second period to just four points. In the final minutes, the Toreros made the plays necessary to grab the lead and hold on for the win. Thomas van der Mars led the Pilots in scoring in the game with 18 points, adding seven rebounds and two blocked shots to his stat line. Bobby Sharp netted 16 points, and Bryce Pressley added 11 with six boards and five assists. Ryan Nicholas chipped in nine points and a team-high eight rebounds.
The Pilots were without their leading scorer, Kevin Bailey, for the third straight game. Bailey is dealing with a calf injury, and is questionable to play against BYU. It's van der Mars in second with 12.9 ppg, and Nicholas in third behind van der Mars and Bailey with 12.8 ppg and a team-best 9 rpg. Alec Wintering leads the Pilots this season with a 4.5 apg mark.
BYU and Gonzaga went into the half knotted at 39 points apiece, but it was the Cougars who got hot down the final stretch of the game to pull away for the eight-point victory. Anson Winder led BYU with 17 points, adding a perfect 10- of-10 from the free-throw line in the game. Matt Carlino had some key baskets in the final run, and ended up with 15 points off the bench. Eric Mika tallied 13 points and eight rebounds, and Tyler Haws chipped in 12 points in the upset win.
Haws leads the Cougars in scoring this season with an impressive 23.6 ppg, connecting on 47.6 percent of his shot attempts from the floor. Kyle Collinsworth is the next closest scorer with 13.9 ppg and a team-leading 141 assists. His 7.8 rpg average is second only to Nate Austin's 8.3 rpg total. Carlino rounds out the double-digit scorers on the year for BYU with 13.5 ppg.
BYU has the momentum entering this game, having won an emotional battle at home. The Cougars are 13-1 at the Marriott Center this season, and although the Pilots got the better of BYU earlier this year, that likely won't happen this time in Provo.
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