Playing for the second night in a row, the University of Portland was able to force some turnovers, unlike during their 4-point win over Santa Clara. But playing against a much tougher opponent Thursday night, the Pilots' inability to generate defensive pressure (and their inability to handle the full-court press) led to a 87-66 thumping by the favored, fifth-seeded University of San Francisco.
The Dons effectively used a full court press for most of the game to keep Portland out of its offensive sets. It also forced the two Pilot point guards, David Carr and Tim Douglas, into a tempo they could not maintain or control.
USF was led by all-conference forward Angelo Caloiaro, who finished with 19 points, 4 assists and two steals. Senior guard Rashad Green also dumped in 19 points, getting 12 of those points from 3-point territory on 4-of-5 shooting from deep. Junior big man Perris Blackwell, besides having a tremendous name, effectively controlled the interior on both sides of the court. He finished with 15 points, 6 boards, and a pair of blocks.
But there is not rest for the Dons. They will be back at it on Friday night against Loyola Marymount. USF dropped both regular-season meetings with LMU, but only by a total of 3 points. In Ken Pomeroy's rankings, he has the Dons and the Lions at 144 and 145 respectively -- a completely even match-up on a neutral floor. This should be one of the best games of the WCC Championships.
More importantly it could keep the momentum going for USF. The Dons were 1-2 in their final three regular season games, sandwiching close losses to BYU and Saint Mary's around a home-court victory over Gonzaga. As I stated on our WCC Championships preview podcast, I believe USF's momentum, which they continued by whipping Portland, will carry them past LMU and into the semi-finals against the Gaels.
Regardless of who wins, WCC basketball fans should tune into ESPNU Friday night (7pm MST) for a game that could be the most hotly contested of the tournament.