The Portland Pilots opened a 14-point second half lead, then fended off a furious comeback by the Pacific Tigers to pick up their first West Coast Conference victory of the season Thursday night at the Chiles Center, 72-64.
Portland (9-6, 1-2 WCC) led 45-31 with 15:12 remaining when Pacific (9-4, 0-2) launched its comeback bid. The Tigers got it as close as two, 53-51, on a pair of Trevin Harris free throws with 6:28 to go, but Portland responded with six straight points.
Thomas van der Mars had 18 points, 13 rebounds and two blocked shots for the Pilots, Ryan Nicholas added 17 points, 12 boards and three blocks, Kevin Bailey scored 15 points and had two swats and Bryce Pressley logged 12 points and 10 rebounds. Alec Wintering had five assists for Portland.
Sama Taku scored 19 points and nabbed three steals to lead Pacific. Harris added 15 points and nine rebounds and Ross Rivera scored 12 points. Tony Gill also had nine rebounds while T.J. Wallace distributed five assists.
Pacific was awful from the floor, making just 24-for-73 (32.9 percent) and 8-for-29 (27.6 percent) from 3-point range. The Tigers were 8-for-14 (57.1 percent) from the free-throw line.
Portland was 24-for-56 (42.9 percent), 3-for-11 (27.3 percent) and 21-for-29 (72.4 percent) and outrebounded the Tigers by a whopping 52-37 margin. But the Pilots turned the ball over 13 times to just seven for Pacific.
The Tigers, who have lost two straight and three of their last four, visit No. 24 Gonzaga on Saturday for a 5 p.m. Pacific tipoff.