Jan. 25, 2008
PORTLAND, Ore. --- Kramer Knutson and Taishi Ito each scored 11 points as the Portland Pilots used a balanced attack to defeat the Cal State Bakersfield Roadrunners 73-63 in a non-conference matchup at the Chiles Center Friday night.
The Pilots (7-13, 1-3 West Coast Conference) shot 50 percent from the field and distributed a season-high 20 assists in the win. Portland also earned a 31-15 advantage in bench points on the night.
Head coach Eric Reveno has preached consistency to his young Pilots, and Friday provided an opportunity to overcome those issues.
"This game was good for us," Reveno said. "We had to work through some areas and overcome some inconsistencies early on. There is always going to be ebbs and flows in games, but you can't let the bottom fall out."
Portland seemed to control play early on, rushing to a 22-14 lead midway through the first period. The Roadrunners (7-14) promptly answered with a 15-2 run over a four minute stretch to go up 29-24. Portland sophomore forward Ethan Niedermeyer drilled consecutive three-pointers in the final minute of the period to regain the lead at the half, 30-29. The Pilots entered the game 0-9 when trailing at the break.
The second half saw Portland extend its lead to 14 as freshman guard Jared Stohl ignited the run with a pair of three-pointers and Smeulders added three baskets. The Roadrunners again roared back and cut the margin to four points with 3:39 remaining, but Knutson threw down a dunk at the other end and Ito drained six consecutive free throws in the final 90 seconds to ice the game.
Knutson finished the night 5-for-8 from the field and also grabbed five rebounds in just 16 minutes of action. Ito matched his season-high with seven assists. Smeulders contributed 10 points and eight rebounds, while Luke Sikma finished with eight points and seven boards.
The Pilots used a decided size advantage to gain a 34-22 margin in points in the paint and outrebounded Bakersfield 36-34, marking the 15th time in 20 games that Portland has recorded a positive rebounding margin.
"We are challenging the guys to make sure we get better each time out," Reveno added. "We want to be a little better next week, and three weeks from now, and then be playing the best basketball of the season by the end of the year."
Portland will return to West Coast Conference action on the road at Gonzaga on Monday. The game is slated for a 5 p.m. tip-off and will be televised live on FSN Northwest.