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KERRY EGGERS ON SPORTS



TRIBUNE PHOTO: RANDY RASMUSSEN - Portland Pilots point guard Alec Wintering (2) fights through a screen as he guards JaQuori McLaughlin of Oregon State.

In his pregame talk before Sunday’s Moda Center matchup with Oregon State, University of Portland coach Terry Porter laid it out for his players.

“In order to win this game,” Porter said, “we have to get our hands dirty.”

After the Pilots’ 53-45 victory, their mitts must have looked like those of miners.

Floor burns, rebounds and defense were the bywords as Portland bounced the Beavers for the first time since 2005.

“We got on the floor,” said Porter, the first-year UP coach and former Trail Blazers great. “We battled with those guys.”

Any time Portland (7-3) beats a Pac-12 opponent, it’s big news. The Pilots had previously lost to UCLA 99-77 and Colorado 76-63.

“It’s our third attempt — nice to get one of them,” Porter said with a smile. “It was great for us confidence-wise and in regards to recruiting to be able to win a game against a Pac-12 team. It’s nice to have that on our resume.”

Resume? As in, resume for postseason tournament action?

“It’s early,” Porter said. “If someone had told me we’d be 7-3 at this point, I’d have taken it, no doubt. Considering our schedule.

“I’m very pleased with what (the players) have put into it and excited for the rewards for all the hard work. It’s about relying on the defensive end to stay in games.”

That was particularly so against one of the weakest Oregon State teams in years. Portland held OSU (3-9) to .280 shooting and manhandled the bigger Beavers to the tune of 44-24 on the boards.

The Pilots shot only .392 from the field and committed 16 turnovers, but kept the nose to the grindstone enough to pull out their third straight win.

“Gives us a lot of confidence,” said senior point guard Alec Wintering, who had 14 points, six rebounds and four assists (along with six turnovers) to pull ahead of Jared Stohl into seventh place on the UP career scoring with with 1,413 points. “We’re on a nice little win streak now. We have to keep it going and build off this game.”

Wintering and backcourt mate Jazz Johnson — who entered the weekend as the No. 5 scoring duo in the country at 41.2 points per game — combined for 29 Sunday in as offensively challenged a game as you’ll see on the Division I level.

Oregon State went 8:40 without a field goal early in the second half and still trailed only 37-32.

The Beavers were down only 51-45 with 41 seconds left, but scoring points was like squeezing blood from a turnip for Wayne Tinkle’s injury-riddled group.

Portland’s unsung hero was junior center Philipp Hartwich, who played the game of his career without even taking a shot. The 7-1 German went scoreless but collared 12 rebounds, blocked three shots and held OSU’s leading scorer — 6-10 sophomore Drew Eubanks — to six points on 2-for-7 shooting and four rebounds.

“Phil really took the challenge of staying tall, build walls and not let him get anything,” Porters said. “(Eubanks) didn’t get into any type of rhythm. We know how effective he can be when he gets into his sweet spots.”

All Oregon State had going offensively was smooth freshman guard JaQuori McLaughlin, who bombed in a season-high 23 points — covering more than half of the Beavers’ points.

“We did such a good job of not allowing those guys to get into any type of rhythm offensively,” Porter said. “And we finished our defensive possessions well. That was something we talked about — make sure (the Beavers) don’t get any extra possessions. Our guys battled down there in the paint. I was very proud of the way they responded.”

Porter used only seven players Sunday — starters Wintering, Johnson, Hartwich, D’Marques Tyson and Gabe Taylor and reserves Rashad Jackson and Chier Maker. The UP coach will probably have a short rotation all season.

“Eight maybe would be about it,” Porter said. “It depends on who’s rolling. Gabe, Jazz and Al all played 40 minutes today.

“When I get a chance to steal some rest for them, I’ll do it. Al was tired at the end. He didn’t have his legs, we ask so much of him. He’s been a great leader. He does everything for us at both ends of the floor. We have to pick our spots and try to rest him as much as we can.”

Maker, a 6-7 redshirt freshman from Australia playing in only his second game after gaining academic eligibility, was 2 for 2 from the field and contributed four points and three rebounds in 19 minutes.

“It’s a matter of shaking the rust off his game,” Porter said. “It’s going to get better and better for him as he gets more comfortable and finds out where he can get scoring opportunities.”

Wintering, in particular, is enjoying having a coach with such vast knowledge as Porter.

“He’s great,” the 6-foot Wintering said. “He’s so smart, knows the game so well. Everything he says, I can put it into action right away. That’s pretty much with everybody on the team, but especially for me coming from a point guard.”

Wintering said he was thrilled with Porter’s appointment as coach.

“Around the Portland area, everybody knows his name,” Wintering said. “I’m a basketball junkie. I definitely knew about his career and how good he was.”

Wintering would like to think he can end his college career in style.

“This might be the best team I’ve played on since I’ve been at Portland,” he said. “Hopefully, everything clicks at the right time and we’ll make a good push at the WCC tournament and get a chance to knock off good teams like Gonzaga, BYU and Saint Mary’s. And then, try to make the Big Dance.”

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