Last week was arguably the most competitive week that the Pilots have played since the start of 2019.
Men’s and women’s basketball went 1-2 overall, but they both played top tier teams in the WCC and stayed competitive with them. Tennis went 3-0 across both men’s and women’s. And baseball started their season against Hawaii, winning three of four to take the series. It was a solid start for baseball and a solid weekend overall.
Let’s take a look at how it all went down.
Basketball goes 1-2, but it was a tough 1-2 with one shining moment
The win/loss column will tell you that UP basketball continues to be, for lack of a better word, pretty ‘meh.’ But anyone who watched the games last week saw some exciting, competitive basketball.
Let’s start with the women’s team. Women’s basketball lost to BYU, the second best team in the conference, by only one point 70-69. It was a game of momentum swings, with the Cougars dominating in the first and the Pilots bringing it back in the second. The third and fourth quarter were neck and neck, with BYU barely edging them out in the final stretch. It was a strong showing for the Pilots.
The more phenomenal thing to happen last week was sophomore guard Maddie Mulheim’s three-point barrage that helped seal the game against San Diego 96-74. She hit nine three-pointers for a career-high 27 points, all of those points coming from outside the arc. Eight of those threes came in the second half, six in the third quarter. It was more than enough, giving Portland a comfortable victory and improving their record to 11-14 overall and 3-11 in conference play.
The San Diego game is an example of how dangerous the Pilots can be if their offense gets going. They shot a season best 53.7 percent from the floor. They hit 12 of their 24 shots from behind the arc. It was the kind of game Portland always looks to play: fast-paced and high-scoring. It helps that San Diego has struggled in conference up to this point, but it was still an impressive win.
Meanwhile, the men’s team extended their losing streak to 13 with the loss to San Francisco in OT 68-63. However, it might have been the hardest the Pilots have fought all season for a potential victory.
It stinks to still be winless in conference play if you’re the Pilots. But they didn’t back down against a really good San Francisco team. The Dons sit at 20-6 overall and 8-4 in conference play. Until they suffered some bad losses in conference, they were widely considered a team capable of earning an at-large bid to the tournament. They have some of the best players in the conference, including Frankie Ferrari, who not only by far has the best name in the WCC, but also is in complete control of the game at all times. Ferrari’s dagger three in overtime to give the Dons the victory was an example of his control.
It still doesn’t look great for Portland. There’s only four opportunities left for the team to get a victory in conference. Three of those games are on the road. The San Francisco game is a hard-fought loss where the Pilots showed some signs of life after what’s been another tough season. However, it is now a very real possibility that the Pilots become the first team since Santa Clara in 2012 to go winless in conference play.
Tennis goes 3-0
Tennis had stellar outings from both teams last week, with the men’s team getting a win against the Idaho Vandals and the women’s team beating Montana and Montana State to extend their winning streak to three.
The men’s 5-2 victory over Idaho was much needed after losing their last four in a row. The team put out a lineup of five freshmen and one sophomore after losing a multitude of players to either injuries or illness. Senior Carlos Donat, the team’s best player and lone senior, sat this one out with an injury as well.
Despite all that, the young team was able to overcome their slow start to get the victory. They’ll face off against Montana State on Friday, Feb. 22.
Women’s tennis has now won three in a row thanks to victories over a pair of Montana schools. Portland defeated the Montana State Bobcats 6-1 and the Montana Grizzlies 6-1.
The wins improved their record to 4-2 overall on the season. Junior Jelena Lukic shined again for the Pilots, winning a third set tiebreaker, while junior Emily Soares and sophomore Lourdes Ramalle also performed exceptionally with a 6-3 doubles victory.
They’ll face off against Portland State on Friday, Feb. 22.
Baseball is back
Baseball is back in full swing (Get it? Full swing, like a bat). They started off the season right with a 3-1 series victory over the Hawaii Rainbow Warriors.
The first game of the series was a close one that required extra innings. The Pilots went off in the 10th, scoring six runs to seal the game for Portland 10-4.
Senior transfer Chris Clements pitched a solid game in the series closer, pitching six innings and striking out eight batters. The Pilots shutout Hawaii while scoring four runs of their own, with Matt Kelly hitting his first home run of the year in the first inning and Dutton Elske scoring three RBIs off a pair of doubles.
Baseball will look to improve off the strides they made last season under head coach Geoff Loomis. Last year was the best season the Pilots had since 2012, even though they still finished under .500 at 23-30. Still, it was a vast improvement over the 10 wins they saw in 2017, and they did win six of their final 10, including victories over the University of Washington and eventual 2018 WCC champion Pepperdine.
This is a good start to the season, and they’ll look to carry the momentum from last season and this opening series into the Al Ogletree Classic in Edinburg, Texas this weekend.
What’s up next?
Men’s basketball will play two games on the road this week. They play at San Diego on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at Pepperdine on Saturday at 5 p.m.
Women’s basketball is also on the road this week. They play at San Francisco on Thursday at 7 p.m. and at Santa Clara on Saturday at 2 p.m.
Men’s tennis plays two matches this week. They face off against Montana State at home on Friday at 9 a.m. and will travel to Seattle to face off against San Diego State on Saturday at noon.
Women’s tennis plays Portland State on Friday in Vancouver at 1:30 p.m.
Baseball plays four games at the Al Ogletree Classic this weekend. They’ll play North Dakota State on Friday, Feb. 22 and Sunday, Feb. 24 — both games starting at 1 p.m. They play UT Rio Grande Valley on Friday, Feb. 22 at 4:30 p.m. and Saturday, Feb. 23 at 5 p.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.