Bulldogs End First Half Of WCC Season Thursday at Portland

            SPOKANE, Wash. - Gonzaga hits the halfway point of the West Coast Conference season Thursday when the Bulldogs travel to Pacific Northwest rival University of Portland for an 8 p.m. ESPN2 telecast as part of the network's Thursday Basketball Showcase.

            The two teams opened the WCC season Dec. 28, 2011, when the Bulldogs took a 90-51 victory in the McCarthey Athletic Center, the earliest opener ever for a WCC men's basketball season. Thursday's game is the lone contest on the schedule for the Zags this week as they get a rare Saturday off this week.

            Gonzaga leads the all-time series with the University of Portland 88-65 and has won 17 straight in the series since the Pilots took a 72-68 victory Feb. 19, 2003, in the Martin Centre, the former home of the Bulldogs next door to the McCarthey Athletic Center. The Zags have won 31 of the last 32 meetings since Portland took a 76-68 victory in the 1996 West Coast Conference Tournament Championship held at Santa Clara University. Portland won the second regular-season meeting between the teams in 1996, and the WCC title-game win was the last time the Pilots have taken two straight victories in the series. Gonzaga has won 15 straight against Portland in the Chiles Center. Add a pair of victories the Bulldogs recorded in the 2007 WCC Tournament held in the Chiles Center and the Bulldogs have won 17 straight in the building. Bulldog head coach Mark Few brings a 14-0 record in the Chiles Center into Thursday's game, including a 12-0 mark against the Pilots, and is 24-1 overall against Portland in 13 seasons.

            With teams hitting the halfway point of the West Coast Conference season, positioning for seeding into the WCC Tournament Feb. 29-March 5 at The Orleans Arena in Las Vegas begins to become more critical with each game. The Bulldogs are trying to keep the pressure on undefeated (8-0) Saint Mary's College while at the same time stay a step ahead of WCC newcomer BYU (6-2). Loyola Marymount University (5-2) is the only other team still seemingly in the race as all other squads have at least five losses.

            Gonzaga can't get caught looking ahead, but following Thursday's game at the University of Portland the Bulldogs don't play again until next Thursday when they make their inaugural trip to BYU followed by a Saturday game at Pepperdine University. A re-match with Saint Mary's in the McCarthey Athletic Center looms Feb. 9.



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