Pilot Roundup: Another day, another losing week for the Pilots
It’s starting to become an all-too familiar feeling now for the Portland Pilots. UP went winless across all competing sports last week, with both basketball teams and men’s tennis finishing the week without a victory.
How did it all go down? Let’s take a look.
Men’s basketball come’s close, but no cigar
Last week was the men’s basketball team’s best chance to stop the bleeding and get their first conference victory. Instead, they got blown out at home by Pepperdine, 83-58, and lost a heartbreaker to Santa Clara 69-63 in overtime. They’ve now lost 10 in a row and are 7-17 overall, 0-9 in conference play.
These losses sting because Pepperdine and Santa Clara are two of the weaker WCC schools. The Pepperdine game stings in particular since the Waves were only 1-7 on the road going into the game. They’re a program that’s growing but still has a ways to go before it’s even considered a middle of the pack team in the WCC. Yet they were able to waltz in and blow out this Pilots squad.
The Santa Clara game at least was one where the Pilots showed signs of life. They held the lead for the entire first half after playing stellar defense. It was not the same story in the second half, however, with the Pilots finding themselves down by 10 with only 1:41 left to play. They tied it up to take the game into overtime but eventually lost. It was a tough break for a team desperate for their first conference win.
Now the Pilots play BYU on Thursday and Loyola Marymount on Saturday. BYU isn’t as good as in the past, but they’re still much better than the Pilots have been this year. Loyola Marymount also beat the Pilots in their WCC opener this year.
Unless something miraculous happens, it’s hard to imagine the Pilots digging out of this deep hole they find themselves in.
Women’s basketball continues conference play struggles
Women’s basketball also struggled last week, losing to Saint Mary’s 113-85 and Pacific 87-77. That drops the team to 10-12 overall this season and only 2-9 in conference play.
I’ve written in the past couple weeks about how the team has shown significant improvement since slogging through a grueling rebuilding period under head coach Cheryl Sorenson. Specifically, their offense has superseded everything their past offenses have done under Sorenson. The problems aren’t on the offensive end. It’s on defense where they struggle to keep up.
St. Mary’s is good, especially on offense where they rank tops in the conference, but giving up 113 points to anyone is less than ideal. The Gaels made almost 63 percent of their shots and half of their threes. Part of that is just hot shooting, but regardless, that is way too high a percentage for Portland to be giving up. They then gave up 87 points to the Tigers, who only made 40 percent of their shots but 45 percent of their threes.
The Pilots are last in scoring defense and ninth in defensive field goal percentage in the WCC. They’re fifth in three-point defense, but they just gave up big shooting nights last week. They’ve held only two conference opponents under 75 points this season (San Diego and San Francisco), both of those games resulting in victories. Their offense is good enough to keep them in games, but their defense is going to need to step it up if they want to have success in the WCC.
Men’s tennis drops WCC opener, as well as game against Nevada
Men’s tennis dropped to 1-5 after losing to Nevada 6-1 and their WCC opener against San Diego 6-1. It’s their fourth loss in a row. They were the worst losses the team had taken since losing to Washington in the season opener 6-1, as well.
Portland seems to be feeling the effects of losing key players, such as two-time WCC Player of the Year Michail Pervolarakis, and sporting a young roster. The squad sports six freshmen and only one senior.
It could be a harsh awakening for the team after spending much of the last two years at the top of the conference. How the young team handles conference play will be interesting to see. They were picked to finish sixth in the WCC preseason poll, currently sitting at last in the WCC right now. Although, only Portland and San Diego, their opponent last Sunday, are the only conference teams that have played each other.
What’s up next
Men’s basketball plays BYU and Loyola Marymount at home this week. The BYU game is on Thursday at 8 p.m. and the LMU game on Saturday at 7 p.m. The BYU game will also be broadcasted on ESPN2, the first game for the Pilots on the station this year.
Women’s basketball plays the No. 1 team in the conference, the Gonzaga Bulldogs, this Saturday at 4:30 p.m. at the Chiles Center. It is the only game for the team this week.
Track and field is back in action this week as well. They’ll be competing in Seattle, Washington at the Husky Classic on Friday, Feb. 8. A select men’s team will also compete at the Iowa State Classic on Feb. 8.
Men’s tennis is off this week but women’s tennis is back in action. They’ll travel to Edgewood, Washington to face off against the Seattle University Redhawks on Friday and the Portland State Vikings on Sunday. They play Seattle at 8:30 a.m. and Portland State at 10 a.m.
Stay tuned for the next Pilot Roundup.
Kyle Garcia is the sports editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.