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.

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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.

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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.

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