March 19, 2009
STOCKTON, Calif. --- The Portland Pilots played in the postseason for the first time in 13 years, but dropped a 82-76 decision to the Pacific Tigers in the first round of the inaugural CollegeInsider.com Postseason Tournament (CIT) Wednesday night at the Spanos Center. Junior guard Nik Raivio led all scorers with 25 points for the Pilots, whose season ends with a 19-13 record.
Pacific improves to 20-12 and will advance to the CIT quarterfinals. The quarterfinal pairings are scheduled to be announced late Wednesday.
Portland led 41-36 at the half as both teams shot well from the field, but the Pilots went cold in the second half while the Tigers continued to fill it up. Pacific finished the game shooting 64 percent from the floor, a Portland opponent high this season. The Pilots shot 65 percent in the first half - including 7 of 9 from three-point range - but finished at 50 percent from the game and made just 2 of 13 from the three-point line in the second half.
Junior point guard T.J. Campbell added 13 points for the Pilots, while sophomore forward Luke Sikma contributed 10 points off the bench.
The Pacific interior players controlled the point en route to a 42-18 advantage in points in the paint. Center Sam Willard paced four Tigers in double figures with 19 points and seven rebounds. Chad Troyer finished with 18 points, Bryan LeDuc added 13 and Michael Kirby had 12.
Pacific used a 16-7 run late in the game to take a 75-64 lead with 1:40 remaining, but the Pilots managed to force some turnovers and cut the deficit to 76-72 with 40 seconds left. The Tigers made six of their last eight free throws to put the game away.
The season ends for Portland by matching the most victories in a year since 1996, when Portland finished 19-11 and advanced to the NCAA Tournament. The 19 wins are tied for second most in school history at the Division I level.
All 13 players will return to the court next season for Portland, as no seniors are on the 2008-09 roster.