Nov. 28, 2009

ANAHEIM, Calif. - Head coach Eric Reveno, senior point guard T.J. Campbell and the rest of the Portland Pilots continue to open eyes on the national stage. A day after defeating UCLA by 27 points, the Pilots led from start to finish in a 61-56 upset of No. 16 Minnesota in the semifinals of the 76 Classic at the Anaheim Convention Center Friday night. Portland will advance to face No. 8 West Virginia in Sunday's championship game live on ESPN2 at 7 p.m.

Campbell scored a game-high 23 points on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and senior forward Robin Smeulders added 13 points, including clutch points late in regulation to seal the win.

Portland, widely considered a dangerous team because of its three-point efficiency and overall offense, showed that it isn't one dimensional on Friday. Despite shooting a season-low 39 percent from the field and 37 percent from the three-point line, the Pilots used solid defense and a 42-33 rebounding edge to knock off a ranked opponent for just the second time in the last 28 years. Portland improves to 6-42 all-time against ranked opponents.

The Pilots jumped out to a 10-point lead on an Ethan Niedermeyer layup with 4:34 left in the first half, capping a 14-4 run for a 26-16 lead. Portland took a 33-27 halftime lead on a Campbell three-pointer. Campbell finished with 15 first-half points, going 4-for-6 from the field with a trio of three-pointers.

The Gophers (4-1) tied the game early in the second half on a Lawrence Westbrook jumper at 34-34, but Portland answered with a 19-9 run as Campbell again provided a big three to close the spurt. The Pilots would extend to an 11 point lead on a Niedermeyer three with 6:32 left for their largest margin of the game, but the Gophers didn't back down.

Minnesota responded with a 9-0 run to make it 56-54 on a Al Nolen jumper with a 3:14 remaining. Smeulders then made a big layup on the block at the end of the shot clock to take a four-point lead with 2:40 left, but the Pilots would be held without a field goal for the rest of regulation.

Minnesota made it a one-possession game after turnover in the final minute led to a pair of Nolen free throws to make it 59-56 with 20 seconds remaining. Another Pilot turnover gave the Gophers a chance to tie, but Blake Hoffarber's long range attempt missed and Campbell sealed the victory by converting both ends of a 1-and-1 at the free throw line.

The Gophers, who defeated No. 10 Butler in the opening round game by an 82-73 margin, were held to their lowest point total and field goal percentage of the season on Friday. This after Portland held UCLA to just 47 points in the opening round.