The 2012 West Coast Conference Tournament began Wednesday night with the lone first-round matchup that featured the No. 8 Portland Pilots defeating the No. 9 Santa Clara Broncos, 74-70. Because the conference has just nine teams, the opening round features the bottom two teams battling it out to stay in the bracket.
If a player can have a near-perfect night (however vaguely defined), Portland's Ryan Nicholas came close to having it. He led all scorers with 24 points while doing it on 10-of-11 shooting. He pulled down 11 rebounds to finish with the only double-double of the night. Kevin Bailey and Tanner Riley added 13 and 12 points, respectively.
The Broncos had a quartet of double-digit scorers, but the team could have used more from Evan Roguemore. While he led the team with 21 points, 11 of those came on free throws. He was just 4-of-18 from the field. Niyi Harrison and Raymond Cowels joined the scoring with 15 and 11 points each.
The Pilots will be back on the court Thursday to take on the No. 5 San Francisco Dons. Due to the WCC's tournament setup, the top two teams are inserted into the bracket during the semifinals round, which explains why Portland is not facing the No. 1 seed in the next round.