The University of Portland women’s basketball team lost to the #9 Oregon Ducks 85-52 in their first game in the Chiles Center since last February.
Chiles was not its normal energetic self, however. The arena felt eerily large with no fans in attendance, there were almost as many hand sanitizing stanchions as people, everything said on and off the court was audible and instead of handshakes to finish the game, both teams gave a salutatory wave.
“It was amazing to play our first game in Chiles,” Sophomore forward Alex Fowler said. “It would have been nice to have fans, but (it was) still good.”
Fowler led the team with 12 points and four boards, but it was not enough against the suffocating Ducks defense, which held the Pilots to the second-lowest total of the Meek era.
Pilots Head Coach Michael Meek said that there was some rust on the Pilots, but it was still a great opportunity to play against a team that has the potential to win a national championship.
“We've had so little time to really be on the court and figure out lineups and try to figure out who we want to be offensively and we've got a lot to keep figuring out about ourselves,” Meek said. “This is definitely a unique year that it's going to take a little longer to find some chemistry.”
Portland was also hampered because guard Haylee Andrews, one of the Pilot’s key players, missed the game with an injury.
“You don't replace a player like Haylee Andrews,” Meek said. “She's the leader of the group, she led the league in assists and was one of the league leaders in scoring. We hope we get her back soon because she's such a big part of what we're doing.”
Portland is scheduled to host Seattle University this Sunday in a rematch after the Pilots beat them 82-70 earlier in the season.
William Seekamp is the Sports Editor for The Beacon. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.