PORTLAND, Ore. – Portland is simply not at the same level as Gonzaga.
That fact was accepted by the Pilots on Thursday night when they lost 71-49 to the 8th-ranked Bulldogs.
"We were not in a position to beat the 8th-best team in the country, but there's no shame in that," Pilots coach Eric Reveno said.
Seven-foot center Kelly Olynyk had 21 points and eight rebounds in Gonzaga's eighth straight win. The West Coast Conference's leading scorer got into early foul trouble against the Pilots after two straight games with more than 30 points, scoring just one basket in the first half.
Kevin Pangos added 14 points, including four 3-pointers for Gonzaga (17-1, 4-0 WCC), as the Bulldogs extended the best start in school history.
"When you look at the balance they demonstrated tonight, they're as good as any team you would have in the conversation," Reveno said, saying that Portland's opponent was the best Gonzaga team he's seen.
Kevin Bailey had 16 points for the Pilots (8-11, 1-3) who trailed by as many as 21 points and dropped their 19th straight game in the series with the Zags.
The Bulldogs have not lost since falling 85-74 to then-No. 13 Illinois on Dec. 8 in Spokane. They were coming off an 83-78 victory over St. Mary's on Saturday, which pulled them up a spot in the AP Top 25, the team's highest ranking since Dec. 22, 2008, when they were No. 7.
The Pilots were coming off a 68-64 victory over Loyola Marymount last Saturday in Los Angeles. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
Three consecutive 3-pointers and a layup from Pangos put Gonzaga up 14-2 early at the sold-out Chiles Center.
But Portland closed in, coming within 16-10 after David Ahern's jumper. Ahern, a freshman walk-on from Northern California, was playing in just his second game for the Pilots. Portland starting point guard Davis Carr is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee in a loss to Pepperdine on Jan. 5.
Guy Landry Edi made a 3-pointer that put the Bulldogs up 23-10 midway through the first half.
But the Pilots closed in again, pulling to 31-26 after Ryan Nicholas' 3-pointer and Bailey's running jumper. It was as close as Portland could come, and the Zags led 36-26 at halftime.
Pangos led all first-half scorers with 11 points, including his three 3-pointers, and Gonzaga was 8 of 15 from beyond the arc.
Gonzaga began to pull away in the second half, going ahead 51-36 after Elias Harris had consecutive dunks. The Pilots simply couldn't match the taller and faster Zags.
"Keeping up your energy covering their inside guys and shooter isn't easy. I think at times our energy went down and they stayed straight," Bailey said.
Olynyk's dunk gave Gonzaga a 58-44 lead with just more than 9 minutes left. Edi dunked for the final margin.
Portland's last victory over Gonzaga came in 2003, when the Pilots won 72-68 in Spokane.