Feb. 29, 2012
LAS VEGAS, Nev. - Sophomore forward Ryan Nicholas recorded a career-high 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds to lead the Portland Pilots to a 74-70 win over the Santa Clara Broncos on Wednesday night in the opening round of the 2012 Zappos.com West Coast Conference Basketball Championships.
Portland advances and will face the No. 5 seed San Francisco Dons on Thursday at 6 p.m. The game will be televised live on BYUtv.
Freshman guard Kevin Bailey added 13 points and sophomore guard Tanner Riley chipped in 12 points for the Pilots.
Portland led by six at the half and would push the margin to 13 points on a Nicholas tip-in with 16:08 remaining for its largest lead of the game. The Broncos (8-22) would roar back and take a 62-61 lead on a pair of free throws by sophomore guard Evan Roquemore with 4:26 left. Nicholas answered with a three-point play and Riley drilled a big three-pointer from the corner to push the lead back to five.
SCU answered with a basket, but Nicholas found Thomas van der Mars cutting to the hoop for another three-point play with 1:31 remaining to give the Pilots a six-point edge. Roquemore would hit six more free throws to make it a 72-70 deficit with 57 seconds remaining and the Pilots turned the ball over on an offensive foul to give SCU a chance to tie or take the lead. Roquemore penetrated down the right baseline, but stepped out of bounds with 5.8 seconds remaining for the first Broncos turnover of the night. Portland broke the press and Riley capped the night with a breakaway dunk for the final points.
The one turnover was a school record for the Broncos. Roquemore led SCU with 21 points, but was held to 4-of-18 shooting. He made 11-of-12 free throws on the night. Niyi Harrison added 15 points, while Raymond Cowels III finished with 11, all in the first half.
Portland made 16-of-17 free throws on the night and gained a 34-26 rebounding margin, but SCU corralled 14 offensive rebounds for a 17-9 edge in second chance points. The Pilots shot 57 percent from the field and made 8-fo-16 three-pointers.
Nicholas was a remarkable 10-for-11 from the field, drilled his only three-point attempt, and drained all three of his free throws. Freshman David Carr was again effective as the starting point guard for the second straight game. Carr finished with six points, six assists and four rebounds in 33 minutes of action.