The Pilots continue to struggle, dropping ninth straight game, and things aren't going to get any easier

By Malika Andrews | February 2, 2017 10:18pm
by Jeffrey Braccia / The Beacon

There does not seem to be light at the end of the tunnel for the Pilots. The men's basketball team dropped their ninth straight game on Thursday night in the Chiles Center, falling to Santa Clara 60-45. The Pilots have lost every game since losing team captain point guard Alec Wintering to an ACL injury on Jan. 19 and have dropped their last six games by 15 points or more.

The problem seems to be that no one can come in and pick up the scoring load that Wintering, who averaged 19.5 points per game this season, used to shoulder. On Thursday, Santa Clara's Jared Brownridge scored a game-high 17 points while Jazz Johnson and Gabe Taylor put up 10 each for the Pilots. But clearly, Johnson and Taylor's performances weren't enough and the Pilots finished the first half without tallying even one assist as a team. 

In the second half, Portland went on an eight-minute scoring drought that sealed their fate. Now, the question becomes, who will be the one to step up? Sophomore Rashad Jackson showed glimpses of brilliance with two steals and five rebounds, but he only notched six points against the Broncos. D'Marques Tyson, who has at times been a secret weapon from beyond the arc, didn't score in 17 minutes of playing time and the Pilots as a team were only 1-of-11 from 3-point range.

Portland plays with heart, but in this conference that isn't enough. It looks as if the Pilots don't have enough ammunition to fight through the talented West Coast Conference. If they don't find another shooter, and quickly, they may not be able to pick up another win this season. 

The Pilots will look ahead to a tough road stretch. First, they face BYU on Saturday in Provo and then will travel to the Bay Area and face St. Mary's— who handed them a 41-point loss last month. 

Wintering will have surgery on his knee next week.