Updated at: 01/17/2013 10:37 PM
By ANNE M. PETERSON
(AP) PORTLAND, Ore. - Kelly Olynyk had 21 points and eight rebounds and No. 8 Gonzaga easily defeated Portland 71-49 on Thursday night, the Bulldogs’ eighth straight victory.
Olynyk, the 7-foot center who leads the West Coast Conference in scoring, got off to a slow start against the Pilots after two straight games with more than 30 points, scoring just one basket in the first half.
Kevin Pangos added 14 points, including four 3-pointers for Gonzaga (17-1, 4-0 WCC), as the Bulldogs extended the best start in school history.
Kevin Bailey had 16 points for the Pilots (8-11, 1-3) who trailed by as many as 21 points and dropped their 19th straight game in the series with the Zags.
The Bulldogs have not lost since falling 85-74 to then-No. 13 Illinois on Dec. 8 in Spokane. They were coming off an 83-78 victory over St. Mary’s on Saturday, which pulled them up a spot in the AP Top 25, the team’s highest ranking since Dec. 22, 2008, when they were No. 7.
The Pilots were coming off a 68-64 victory over Loyola Marymount last Saturday in Los Angeles. The win snapped a three-game losing streak.
Three consecutive 3-pointers and a layup from Pangos put Gonzaga up 14-2 early at the sold-out Chiles Center.
But Portland closed in, coming within 16-10 after David Ahern’s jumper. Ahern, a freshman walk-on from Northern California, was playing in just his second game for the Pilots. Portland starting point guard Davis Carr is out for the season after tearing a ligament in his right knee in a loss to Pepperdine on Jan. 5.
Guy Landry Edi made a 3-pointer that put the Bulldogs up 23-10 midway through the first half.
But the Pilots closed in again, pulling to 31-26 after Ryan Nicholas’ 3-pointer and Bailey’s running jumper. It was as close as Portland could come, and the Zags led 36-26 at halftime.
Pangos led all first-half scorers with 11 points, including his three 3-pointers, and Gonzaga was 8 of 15 from beyond the arc.
Gonzaga began to pull away in the second half, going ahead 51-36 after Elias Harris had consecutive dunks. The Pilots simply couldn’t keep up with the taller and faster Zags.
Olynyk’s dunk gave Gonzaga a 58-44 lead with just more than 9 minutes left. Edi dunked for the final margin.
Olynyk was the first Gonzaga player with consecutive 30-point games since Adam Morrison in 2006.
Portland’s last victory over Gonzaga came in 2003, when the Pilots won 72-68 in Spokane.
(Copyright 2013 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)