After falling to the Santa Clara Broncos on Thursday, the University of Portland women’s basketball team showed what kind of team they can really be, beating the San Francisco Dons this afternoon, 78-73.
“We learned our lesson from Thursday night in terms of getting down and being resilient,” Portland head coach Cheryl Sorenson said. “We stayed true to our identity of who we are as a team in terms of always trying to push the pace.”
The stars of the game were senior Darian Slaga and freshman Haylee Andrews, who lead the team with 25 and 19 points respectively. Andrews also added five assists.
“About dang time,” Slaga said about the game. “We’ve been emphasizing we need to get back to playing for forty minutes, and I don’t think we did that the whole game and we know that. But it was a really good second half for us.”
The game seemed promising after the Pilots won the tip and came out strong in the first quarter. Sophomore Maddie Mulheim and senior Julie Spencer kept the team ahead by a small margin, along with Andrews. The home team finished the quarter up 17-14.
But a combination of high energy from San Francisco junior Shannon Powell and freshman Nia Alexander, and a weak defense from Portland allowed for the Dons to gain a substantial lead in the second quarter. While the Pilots slowed down, the Dons were consistent, moving the ball around and taking quick shots. Portland went into halftime down 46-36.
“We weren’t containing our own player,” Andrews said. “We couldn’t keep anyone in front of us, and I just think that broke our whole defense down.”
After halftime, the Pilots came out a different team. They were re-focused and re-energized, presenting a much more aggressive defense than was seen in the first two quarters of the game. With a strong defense and a last-minute layup by Andrews, the Pilots were able to catch up to the Dons and finished the third period 57-56, San Francisco still in the lead.
“We knew we had the ability to get it back,” Andrews said. “We knew we could win this game, and that was what we did.”
The Pilots finally took the lead a minute into the final quarter with a three-pointer from Slaga. They stayed ahead for the rest of the game, as Slaga kept putting away three-pointers that made people in the stands jump to their feet. The Dons tried to close the gap with a run in the last minute, but Slaga slowed the game down enough for the Pilots to come out with a win and bring their overall record to 10-10.
“I’m proud of us. I’m really proud of us,” Slaga said.
The women’s basketball team will be on the road next week, facing Saint Mary’s on Thursday, Jan. 26 and Pacific on Saturday, Feb. 2.
Ana Clyde is a sports reporter for The Beacon. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.