The University of Portland women’s basketball team returned home to battle for their fifth win of the season on Wednesday night against the Utah State. Sophomore guard Josie Matz’s 15 points in the 4th quarter propelled the Pilots to a 61-54 victory.
Portland leaned on senior guard Darian Slaga early in the first half for offense as she scored eight of Portland’s first 11 points. Slaga drove to the bucket a few times to get to the line to try and kickstart the Pilots into gear.
Portland committed some critical mistakes in the first quarter, ending the quarter with six turnovers. The Aggies jumped out to a 22-16 lead by end the first quarter.
The Pilots came out playing at a faster pace in the second. Portland started to trap Utah State players along the baseline, forcing turnovers and empty possessions for the Aggies.
“We just talked about the press today,” Pilot head coach Cheryl Sorenson said. “It changed the pace of the game.”
Portland also took advantage of having multiple talented guards by utilizing freshman guard Haylee Andrews in a starting role while using junior guard Kate Andersen for a smaller, quicker lineup.
“The style of offense we play is really four guards on the floor,” Sorenson said. “Kate Andersen provides a huge spark off the bench with her energy, she works so hard.”
The Pilots won the second quarter and narrowed the deficit to just one before halftime, trailing 29-30 going into the locker room.
Portland came out slow in the third quarter, only scoring five points. The Pilots’ defensive play kept them in the game as they held Utah State to only 40 points at the end of the third quarter.
Portland faced a scary moment early in the fourth quarter when freshman guard Andrews went to the ground with what seemed to be an ankle injury. She did not return the rest of the game. Sorenson said after the game that Andrews should be ready to go for Saturday.
Sophomore guard Matz stepped up for the Pilots, finishing with a career high 19 points, 15 of which came in the fourth quarter.
“Haylee was down and someone had to step up,” Matz said. “When your team shoots the ball how they were all game the defense gets drawn out, you just have to take what’s there.”
The Pilots improve to 5-1, their best start since the 2001-02 season. Portland will look to keep the success rolling as the team travels downtown to take on rival Portland State on Saturday, Dec. 1.
Jamison White is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.