The University of Portland women’s basketball team topped the Fresno State Bulldogs 75-64 on Sunday afternoon. Their win against the Mountain West team gave UP its first 4-0 start since the 2010-11 season.
“It was just a really awesome team win,” said junior guard Maddie Muhlheim. “We were just having a good week of practice, so being able to come out there and put it all together was awesome.”
The Bulldogs got an early lead after winning the tipoff. Their quick passes and high-pressure defense caused the Pilots to fall behind in the first quarter. The Bulldogs held a 17-12 lead at the end of the period.
“They are a good team, and I felt like they came out ready to play,” Portland head coach Michael Meek said. “It’s just an opportunity to see what our team is going to be about.”
Fresno stayed ahead of Portland through the entire first quarter, but with five minutes left in the second, the Pilots were able to close the gap. With top scorers Mulheim and freshman forward Alex Fowler, the home team pulled ahead of the Bulldogs to enter halftime with a 38-32 lead.
“They didn’t quit on things,” Meek said about the Pilots. “They kept coming together as a group, and once they settled in I felt like it was a really good game against a really good team.”
Portland seemed to gain control as the Bulldogs lost it in the third quarter. Freshman forward Keeley Frawley kept home possession alive with seven rebounds total, and Portland stayed ahead by about five points throughout the period with Fowler leading the team with 14 points. UP went into the fourth quarter ahead 57-50.
“I feel really fortunate with the freshmen we have, all the way across the board,” Meek said.
In the final period, Fresno State picked up some momentum, making faster turnovers and getting to a one-point deficit as they tried to close Portland’s lead. Portland kept possession for the final minutes of the game until the last 30 seconds, when a series of fouls for both teams kept the crowd anxious to see if the Bulldogs would make a comeback. But a final free throw by sophomore Haylee Andrews solidified the Pilot win.
“I’d love to continue winning as much as we can,” Fowler said. “Everyone loves to win. But we’re such a great group … On and off the court, we spend so much time together and I love how close we are.”
The Pilots will go on the road to face the California State Northridge Matadors Thursday, Nov. 21 at noon.
Ana Clyde is the senior sports reporter and copy editor for The Beacon. She can be reached at email@example.com.