San Diego drops Pilots on Senior Day

By Sal Aversa | February 25, 2017 6:14pm

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by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

It was an emotional afternoon for the Portland Pilots women’s basketball team as four seniors played their last game at the Chiles Center. Friends and families looked on as seniors Holly Blades, Hannah Mattson, Corissa Turley and Kaylie Van Loo were honored pregame and laced their shoes for their final collegiate home game.

The Pilots weren’t able to grab the win over San Diego on Senior Day, losing 72-54. Portland falls to 6-23 overall and 4-14 in the WCC, while the Toreros move to 13-15 on the year and 7-11 in the WCC.

But despite the loss, head coach Cheryl Sorenson was full of emotions after the game.

“I feel really blessed to have had these seniors for two, three, or four years,” Sorenson said. “Seeing their personalities grow and watching them grow as adults through ups and downs is the best part of my job. They’re excellent representatives of the University of Portland.”

The Pilots jumped out to the lead after the first quarter with tough defense. However, San Diego would turn it around in the second period with hot shooting, going 12-of-15 from the floor, to go up by 15 by the half, 38-23.

Despite a tough second quarter, the Pilots maintained a tough defensive front, racking up blocks and steals.

Sophomore Julie Spencer had three blocks Saturday afternoon, including two on back-to-back possessions. Van Loo had two steals that led to four fast break points on back-to-back possessions as well. But the Toreros were able to limit their turnovers and make shots— shooting 44.6 percent to the Pilots 30.5  percent— to hold on to their lead the rest of the game.

Van Loo led the Pilots with 15 points, and also contributed five assists and four steals. Caroline Buhr led the Toreros with 17 points this afternoon. But even with the loss, the Portland fans cheered for the seniors as the final horn sounded.

With tears in her eyes, senior guard and captain Mattson was taking the scene in after the game.

“It’s hard, it’s one of those games where you know it’s the last time you step on the court,” Mattson said. “You want to play your best not only for UP, but also the girls on this team.”

“It snuck up on me. I cannot believe this is our Senior Day,” Sorenson added. “They mean a lot to me. I really invest in the relationship part of our players. I truly love and care about them.”

Portland will next head to the West Coast Conference Championships at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, Nev., where they'll get a rematch with the Toreros next Thursday afternoon. 

Contact sports reporter Sal Aversa at aversa17@up.edu or on Twitter @sal_aversa.
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