PORTLAND, Ore. — The University of Portland's women's basketball team are WCC champions after beating top-ranked Gonzaga Tuesday night in Las Vegas, and the team will be dancing into the NCAA tournament later this month.
The upset victory came after the Pilots lost to the Bulldogs twice during the regular season, and after Portland was behind by double digits at the start of the second half on Tuesday.
Sophomore Emme Shearer said she knew Gonzaga was a good team but she and her teammates didn't feel any pressure, despite being behind.
"It’s a surreal feeling, it didn't hit us for a while that we actually did it, but it's just such a great group of girls and coaches to pull off the win," she said.
She added that she knows how hard it is to beat a team three times, but she said anything can happen in March.
Coach Michael Meek said he knew his team would be up to the challenge because they're gritty and tough, and they rise to the challenge when adversity hits.
The team's roster includes five seniors who previously made the tournament three years ago, only for the COVID-19 pandemic to pull the plug on everything.
"It was so anticlimactic in 2020," said senior Keeley Frawley. "We won, we were so excited, we came back to campus — COVID was happening two days later."
The team will now get the chance to experience the tournament for the sixth time in the program's history. They don't yet know who they'll be facing off against, but Keeley is hoping she gets to play against a familiar face.
"My cousin plays for Virginia Tech and they recently won the ACC tournament, so I think that would be so surreal to her there," Frawley said.
It's going to be an experience they hope they can ride all the way to Dallas for the championship game.