LAS VEGAS, Nev. - A balanced offensive attack, stifling defense and exceptional team basketball led the No. 6-seed Portland Pilots to a 69-52 victory over No. 3 Saint Mary's in the West Coast Conference Championship quarterfinals Saturday afternoon at the Orleans Arena.
The Pilots (17-14) held Saint Mary's to 30 percent shooting for the game and, despite giving up size at most positions, were able to win the rebound margin by a 31-30 advantage.
Senior guard Kevin Bailey overcame early foul trouble to score a team-high 16 points to lead four Pilots in double figures. Freshman Jason Todd was inserted into the starting lineup and responded with a career-high 14 points, including 12 in the second half. Thomas van der Mars and D'Marques Tyson added 10 apiece.
The Gaels (21-9) got a big effort from senior center Brad Waldow, who finished 25 points and eight rebounds, but the Pilots held the rest of the Saint Mary's roster in check all game.
It was a true team effort as 11 different Pilots saw the court in the first half. Bailey was forced to the bench with two early fouls, but Tyson stepped up with eight first half points. Van der Mars scored all 10 of his points in the first period to provide a lift. Portland took a 32-26 lead into the break on a tip-in by point guard Alec Wintering.
Bailey and Todd did a majority of the damage in the second half. This time it was van der Mars saddled with foul trouble and forced to the bench with four fouls and 13:53 remaining. The Pilots led by just two at that point, but would explode down the stretch.
With senior forward Volodymyr Gerun battling the flu and forced into reduced minutes, freshman center Philipp Hartwich provided a much-needed defensive presence against Waldow in the second half.
The Pilots played Waldow one-on-one in the post for most of the game, but were able to shut down the rest of the lineup. At one point Waldow scored 16 straight points over a 12-minute and 40-second stretch, but no other Gael scored as Portland extended a 36-34 lead into a rout.
During the run, Todd made multiple big plays including a pair of shot clock beating three-pointers.
Portland led 43-41 with 11:50 remaining and then junior guard Bryce Pressley made a pair of tough jumpers late in the shot clock on consecutive possessions. Portland then locked in on defense and forced a pair of steals and three missed jumpers while pushing the margin to 58-45 on a Todd triple with 5:02 left.
The lead would grow to as much as 19 points late and was never in doubt down the stretch.
Portland shot an even 50 percent from the field and finished with just 10 turnovers, including only two in the second half.
The Pilots will now wait to see the winner of No. 2 BYU and No. 7 Santa Clara, which tips off at approximately 8:30 p.m. Saturday night. The WCC semifinals are Monday night at 6:00 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. Game assignments will be determined after the matchups are set.
ESPN/ESPN2 will provide coverage of the semifinals, while radio coverage of all Pilot games begins 30 minutes prior to tip-off on Sports 910 (KMTT).