Ryan Nicholas scored 24 points and grabbed 11 rebounds, leading the No. 8 seed Portland Pilots over the No. 9 seed Santa Clara Broncos 74-70 on Wednesday night in the opening game of the 2012 West Coast Conference Basketball Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
Portland will now face the No. 5 seed San Francisco Dons Thursday night at 6 p.m. PST in the next round. The loss for the Broncos was their 18th straight defeat.
The Pilots led 41-35 at halftime, and built a lead as large as 13 points with 16:08 remaining in the second half. Kevin Bailey added 13 points, three rebounds, and three assists for Portland, who shot 56.8% from the field during the game. Nicholas made 10 of of his 11 shots from the field, including his only attempt from three-point range. The Pilots made eight of 16 shots from beyond the arc during the contest.
Evan Roquemore scored 21 points to lead Santa Clara, who shot just 37.5% from the field. Santa Clara lost all 17 games against WCC foes this season.