PORTLAND, Ore. (AP)—Portland waited 50 years to return to the national rankings. The Pilots’ stay in the Top 25 probably won’t be very long.
Dominic Waters scored 21 of his 23 points in the second half and Portland State rallied for an 86-82 victory over No. 25 Portland in the Pilots’ first game as a ranked team in 50 years.
The Vikings (2-4) have won four consecutive games over cross-town rival Portland (5-2), which was ranked for three weeks in the 1958-59 season.
“It’s a grind,” Portland coach Eric Reveno said. “To be a really good basketball team, consistently, is just really hard.”
The Pilots jumped into the national spotlight with a 27-point win over UCLA in the first round of the 76 Classic that they followed with a win over then-No. 22 Minnesota in the semifinals and a loss to No. 7 West Virginia in the championship game.
That got the attention of Portland State.
“Our guys took a little bit of pride in (playing a ranked team). Plus, we had beaten them the last three years, and we’re a pretty good team, too,” said coach Tyler Geving, who’s in first season at the helm of a Portland State team that played in the NCAA tournament the last two years.
Portland State shot 60 percent (15 of 25) from 3-point range while Portland finished at 38 percent (6 of 16).
“You’re tough to defend when you can shoot it like that. And then that opens the inside game,” Geving said.
The 15 3-pointers tied a Chiles Center record, which was set in 1998 by Loyola Marymount and matched in 2003 by Oregon.
Portland led 74-62 with 9:20 left, but Portland State reeled off 10 straight points, including consecutive 3-pointers by Waters and Paul Guede, to quickly trim the deficit to 74-72.
Portland State took the lead at 81-80 when Waters hit a 3-pointer with 3 minutes remaining.
The Vikings pushed the lead to 85-82 on two free throw by Waters with 22 seconds left. Portland had a chance to tie but Nik Raivio’s 3-point attempt from the corner was off the mark.
Robin Smeulders led Portland with 20 points and nine rebounds. Raivio added 17 points, 15 in the first half, and topped the 1,000 mark for his career at Portland.
Portland State kept itself in the game with the 3-pointer. The Vikings hit 10 of 14 attempts from beyond the arc in the first half. Melvin Jones was 5 of 6 on 3s, and Phil Nelson and Dane Johnson had two each.
With Waters, a senior point guard, struggling, Portland State found itself down 52-46 at halftime, but Geving hardly seemed worried.
“I just told them to keep competing,” Geving said. “Six points is nothing in a game like this.
“Dominic played extremely well tonight,” Geving said. “He just looked for his opportunities. He didn’t force things, because we have a lot of guys that can score.”