Killian Tillie scored a season-high 22 points as No. 1 Gonzaga rallied from a seven-point halftime deficit to defeat host Portland 85-72 Thursday night in the West Coast Conference opener for both schools.
Tillie, an injury-prone senior forward who sat out the previous game to rest, had 18 points in the second half as the Bulldogs (15-1) outscored the Pilots 50-30.
The win was Gonzaga’s 28th consecutive in WCC play and their 33rd in a row in conference road games.
Corey Kispert added 18 points, followed by Ryan Woolridge (15), Joel Ayayi (13) and Filip Petrusev (11). Petrusev grabbed a game-high eight rebounds.
JoJo Walker came off the bench to score 15 points for Portland (8-8), which suffered its fifth consecutive defeat. Isaiah White added 12 points, and Chase Adams had nine points and a game-high six assists.
This season’s No. 1 jinx nearly bit the Bulldogs. Michigan State, Kentucky, Duke, Louisville and Kansas have all lost within three games of ascending to the top of the Associated Press rankings.
Gonzaga avoided that with a 16-0 run early in the second half that turned an eight-point deficit into a 55-47 lead in a span of 4:23.
Tillie gave the Bulldogs the lead for good, 48-47, by scoring on his own offensive rebound with 14:59 left. He then stole the ball on the ensuing Portland possession and passed to Woolridge, who returned it to Tillie on an alley-oop pass for a dunk.
A 3-pointer from the corner by Kispert and two free throws by Drew Timme after a flagrant foul capped the 16-point run.
Portland, which has never defeated a team ranked in top 10, dropped to 7-71 against ranked opponents.
Walker scored 10 points in the first half as the Pilots shot 18 of 33 from the field to take a 42-35 lead.
—Field Level Media