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Pilot Pride: Portland (finally) overcomes long losing streak to Gonzaga

  • 3f14010069ee7e01480f6a70670060a5.jpg

    Thomas van der Mars (12) and Korey Thieleke (21) celebrate as the Portland Pilots beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 82-73 in an NCAA college basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)The Associated Press

  • c7e4cbd869ed7e01480f6a7067009979.jpg

    Players and fans celebrate at mid court as the Portland Pilots beat the Gonzaga Bulldogs 82-73 in an NCAA college basketball game in Portland, Ore., Thursday Jan. 9, 2014. (AP Photo/Greg Wahl-Stephens)The Associated Press

Thomas van der Mars lingered courtside long after his Pilots had upset Gonzaga, greeting fans, hugging friends and just generally smiling. Wins like this were the reason the 6-foot-11 junior center had come from the Netherlands to Portland.

The Pilots hosted the No. 22 Bulldogs on Thursday night and led from the start en route to an 82-73 victory.

The win snapped a 20-game losing streak to the defending West Coast Conference champion Zags. The perennial NCAA tournament darlings had won 22 straight conference games dating back three seasons.

Van der Mars was caught up in the postgame celebration when the purple-clad Pilots fans stormed the court. He had never seen anything like it — except on TV.

The last time Portland beat the Bulldogs was in 2003 in Spokane, Wash.