LAS VEGAS (CBS / AP) — Ryan Nicholas scored a career-high 24 points to lead Portland to a 74-70 victory Wednesday night over Santa Clara in the opening game of the West Coast Conference tournament.

Kevin Bailey scored 13 and Riley Tanner added 12 points for the eighth-seeded Pilots (7-23), who advance to play No. 5 seed San Francisco on Thursday.

READ MORE: Report Reveals San Jose State University's $4 Billion Economic Impact On California

The ninth-seeded Broncos (8-22) cut the Pilots’ lead to 72-70 on two free throws by Evan Roquemore with 57 seconds left. But Roquemore committed a turnover with 7 seconds left and after a timeout, Riley’s dunk put the game away for Portland.

READ MORE: UPDATE: Coroner Identifies Man Killed in Juneteenth Mass Shooting at Oakland's Lake Merritt

Roquemore led Santa Clara with 21 points. Niyi Harrison scored 15 and Raymond Cowels III added 11 points for the Broncos, who were winless in the conference’s 16-game regular season schedule.

The WCC’s top two seeds, Saint Mary’s and Gonzaga, have byes into Saturday’s semifinals.

MORE NEWS: Police Need Help Finding Sacramento Teen Who May Be In Oakland

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)