Pilot Roundup: Winter sports wrapping up while spring is just getting started

By Kyle Garcia | February 27, 2019 7:19pm

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Marcus Shaver Jr. tries to make a play while surrounded by defenders.
by Jeff Braccia / The Beacon

As spring break creeps up ever so closely, one sports season ends while another is just getting started.

The basketball teams’ regular season is coming to close, with this week being the last for games for both teams. Meanwhile, the spring sports teams on The Bluff are springing (sorry for that joke) into action, with baseball off to their best start since 2012 and both tennis teams getting going as well. Track and field also finished up their indoor season at MPSF Indoor Championships last weekend and once again performed admirably.

Let’s take a look at how it all went down

Basketball struggles continue

Basketball went 1-3 overall last weekend. The men’s team dropped to 7-22 and 0-14 in conference play, while the women’s team sits at 12-15 overall and 4-12 in conference play. It’s mostly the same old song and dance for basketball, with the men’s team struggling and the women’s team squeaking out at least one victory.

The men’s team dropped two games last week to San Diego and Pepperdine on the road. They’ve lost 15 games straight now and are dangerously close to becoming the first team to go winless in WCC play since Santa Clara in 2012. They’ve all but secured the 10th place spot in the conference tournament.

The team has already hit 22 losses on the year, the same loss total as the first two years under Terry Porter. If they go winless this week, it’ll be the first time under Porter the team has failed to reach double-digit wins.

The hope for the Pilots is to sneak out a victory against either Saint Mary’s or Santa Clara. Beating the Gaels on the road is pretty unlikely for Portland, but they might be able to stay competitive with St. Mary’s. Also, an unimportant side note, two-time Oscar winner Mahershala Ali went to St. Mary’s and played for the basketball team! He averaged only three points a game for his career, but still, it’s a reminder that some people are just too darn talented.

Santa Clara, however, is definitely a beatable team if you’re the Pilots. They took the Broncos into overtime last time they matched up and lost 69-63 on the road. Now that they have the home court advantage, they could maybe come away on top and avoid going without a conference win for the 2018-19 season.

Meanwhile, the women’s team split their games last week 1-1, taking down San Francisco on the road 69-66 before getting beaten handily by Santa Clara 106-68.

Their 12 wins on the year is the most they’ve had since the 2011-12 season when they also had 12 wins. They have a chance to get up to 14 wins with games against Loyola Marymount and Pepperdine this week at home.

That could prove to be difficult, however. Pepperdine is 19-8 this season and 12-4 in conference. They’re third in the conference overall and will be a tough matchup for the Pilots, who lost to the Waves 82-68 last time. Portland also lost to LMU last time 76-58, although the Lions are a more middle of the road team in the conference and one that Portland might be able to take if they get their offense going.

Either way, it’s been a relatively successful season for the Pilots. They took a meaningful step forward this season in rebuilding their program, and they might be able to make some noise in the conference tournament this year as well.

Baseball continues their hot start

The baseball team sits at 6-2 with after going 3-1 last weekend at the Al Ogletree Classic in Edinburg, Texas. It’s their best start since 2012 and a solid start to a grueling 11-day road trip throughout Texas.

The Pilots swept both of their games against North Dakota State while going 1-1 against the University of Texas-Rio Grande Valley. 

Strong pitching helped guide the Pilots this weekend. Junior closer Connor Knutson had three saves over the weekend while redshirt senior Chris Clements collected his second win of the season on Sunday against North Dakota State. Sophomore Eli Morse also got his first win of the season, giving up only one run to North Dakota State in the season opener.

It’s been a strong start to the season for baseball. They’ll look to keep that up against Stephen F. Austin, who they’ll play four games against starting on Thursday, Feb. 28.

Tennis goes 1-1 over the weekend

The men’s team lost their lone match of the weekend to San Diego State on Friday, Feb. 22, but the women’s team was able to extend their winning streak to four with a victory over Portland State.

Men’s tennis dropped to 3-6 at the hands of San Diego State, falling to the Aztecs 5-2. Freshmen Sema Pankin and Issa Yoshida were the only Pilots to pull out set wins on the day, with both players winning their singles match up as well as their doubles pairing.

Women’s tennis, meanwhile, extends their winning streak to four games after taking down crosstown rivals Portland State 6-1. The bottom of the lineup performed superbly. Freshman Angela Schuster swept her opponent in straight sets, while sophomore Lourdes Ramalle won 6-0 and 6-2 to clinch victory. It was yet another dominating performance from Portland.

Track and field continues stellar season

A slew of Pilots on track and field achieved personal bests in their respective races at the MPSF Indoor Championships last week. Redshirt senior Taryn Rawlings once again broke her own school record in the mile with a time of 4:36 while fellow senior Lauren LaRocco also matched her own school in the 3000m with a time of 9:12.19. Rawlings finished third overall in her race while LaRocco finished 10th.

Seniors Aoibhe Richardson and Becca Howard also had strong finishes in Seattle on Saturday. Richardson (9:21.97) moved to third all-time in the UP record books while Howard (9:35.23) moved to ninth all-time. The women’s team performed exceptionally well.

The men’s team also broke some of their own personal records this weekend. Along with this, seniors Jack Welch, Caleb Webb, Noah Schutte and junior Malcolm Roux broke the previous UP indoor record in the distance medley, running it in a time of 10:01.6.

Track and field continues to dominate for UP.

What’s up next

Both basketball teams come back to the Chiles Center this week on Saturday, but first the men’s team plays a road game on Thursday at 8 p.m. against St. Mary’s. They will then come back for their senior night and season finale against Santa Clara on Saturday, Mar. 2 at 7 p.m.

Women’s basketball plays both of their games at home this week. Loyola Marymount visits the Pilots on Thursday, Feb. 28 at 7 p.m. while Pepperdine comes on Saturday at 4:30 p.m.

Baseball is still in Texas this week. They’ll face off against Stephen F. Austin in a four game series from Thursday to Saturday.

Both tennis teams are back in action this week. The men’s team will play Montana on Saturday at 9 a.m. and Eastern Washington on Sunday at 9 a.m. Meanwhile, women’s tennis will play their first conference match against Santa Clara on Friday at 10 a.m. and then Arizona on Sunday at 1 p.m.

Track and Field start their outdoor track and field season at the Linfield Icebreaker and Willamette Open on Friday and Saturday respectively.

Stay tuned for the next Pilot Roundup. 

Kyle Garcia is the sports editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at garciaky20@up.edu.

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