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Peppered in Portland

January 10, 2003 Columns No Comments



Peppered in Portland

by Jed Tai

It’s been a season of streaks for the Portland Pilots.

After winning their first three games of the season (not including two additional exhibition wins), the Pilots lost five in a row, and then won four of five games to finish off the non-conference portion of their schedule with a 7-6 record. The seven wins already surpasses last year’s complete win total of six victories.

Michael Holton’s squad hoped to continue the winning with their conference opener at home against Pepperdine.

Like their season, the game would also prove to be a combination of streaks for the Pilots. After a slow start by both teams, Portland trailed 9-4 before catching fire. The Pilots went on a 13-2 run capped off by a Donald Wilson alley-oop dunk from Eugene Jeter with 11:25 left in the half for a 17-11 lead. Pepperdine responded with a streak of their own at the midway point of the period, finishing the rest of a half outscoring the Pilots 21-9, including a six minute stretch where they scored twelve straight points. The Waves led at the break, 34-28.

The run would continue for Paul Westphal’s team in the second half, as the Waves used sharp three-point and free throw shooting to methodically build a large lead. An 11-2 run early in the period gave them some breathing room, and after a layup by Boomer Brazzle with 6:32 on the clock, the Waves had their largest lead of 19, 69-50. But as they’ve done all year, the Pilots would not go quietly. UP went on their own 7-0 run to get things going, and after two free throws by Casey Frandsen at the 1:43 mark, the Pilots were within eight, 74-66.

Unfortunately, that’s as close as Portland would get. Pepperdine scored eight of the game’s last ten points – all from the free throw line – and won going away, 82-68.

For Portland, Dustin Geddis led the way off the bench with career highs of 22 points and 18 rebounds. Two other Pilots scored in double figures: Frandsen with 14 and Wilson with 11. No other Pilot scored more than six. The Pilots ended up almost even-steven with the Waves on the boards (36 to 38) but shot only 39.4 percent from the field (26-for-66), 26.1% from three-point range (6-for-23), and matched a season-high with 22 turnovers.

According to Holton, UP simply didn’t make the step up against Pepperdine.

“We didn’t match their energy and competitiveness,” said Holton. “For us to have a chance to beat a team of that caliber, everybody on the roster has to play at the magic level and I don’t think we even got close to that level tonight. We just didn’t have a consistently aggressive effort and I think you have to give Pepperdine some of the credit for why we didn’t.

“Their physical and athletic presence had an effect on us before the ball was even thrown up.”

Of course, it didn’t help that Pepperdine had a huge advantage from the charity stripe. The Waves outshot the Pilots by a large margin from the line – Portland didn’t take their first three throw until 16 minutes left in the second half – a disparity that didn’t sit well with Holton.

“The difference in the game was the free throw line,” said Holton. “It wasn’t a game that was played in a way that one team should shoot 32 and another team should shoot 11.”

Pepperdine was paced by freshman guard Alex Acker with 18 points – including 11-for-12 shooting from the free throw line – but got huge play off their bench. Forward Robert Turner chipped in with 17 points and nine rebounds, and guard Mike Westphal (yes, Paul’s son) chimed in with 13 on 4-for-4 shooting, including three three-pointers. In all, five Waves scored in double figures, including 15 from senior forward Brazzle, a Portland native playing in his last homecoming game.

As disappointing as the loss was, there’s no time for Holton and his team to dwell on it as Portland immediately faces Loyola Marymount at home on Saturday night.

“The exciting thing about this whole business to me; everybody has a quick turnaround,” said Holton. “It’s the team that can mentally adjust from one game to the next because your body is going to follow your mind.”

“If your mind stays flat and you stay on the canvas, you’ll get knocked out again.”

Tough Thursday

It was a rough night all around for Division I schools from the Beaver State.

While Portland incurred their loss at home, the other three Oregon schools had to suffer disappointment on the road.

The biggest loss of the night was Oregon’s loss to California down in Berkeley. The Ducks were never really in sync and struggled with their offense all night long while Cal’s Amit Tamir and Joe Shipp shot the lights out on the way to a 88-72 Bears victory. Oregon State is still looking for its first win in Pac-10 play, as they dropped to 0-3 with a heartbreaking loss at Stanford, 57-54. The Beavers led most of the way before Stanford made a furious comeback late in the second half to pull out the win. To add to the state’s pain, Portland State’s late charge at Montana State wasn’t enough, as Jeb Ivey’s final three-point shot attempt with six seconds left was short in a 52-48 loss.

All three schools will remain on the road for Saturday, with Oregon and Oregon State switching off opponents between Cal and Stanford, while Portland State goes to Missoula to face the Montana Grizzlies.

     

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