BYU plays Portland for the first time this season

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The BYU women’s basketball team faces the University of Portland for the first time this season in the Marriott Center on Thursday.

BYU (18–7) improved to 9–3 in West Coast Conference play after defeating Pepperdine on Saturday. The Cougars are currently tied for second place in the WCC with St. Mary’s. Portland (10–16, 5–8) is currently on a two-game losing streak after dropping games to San Francisco and St. Mary’s. The Pilots fought both teams until the end, losing by a total of 10 points in both games.

Xojian Harry takes a shot in a game against Santa Clara. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

“Portland is a team that has been playing very well as of late,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “They’ve beaten some really good teams that were surprising. They shoot the ball really well from the perimeter … We’re going to have to do a good job getting our match-ups right.”

The Cougars have home court advantage this week with two home games. BYU is 12–0 against teams in the Marriott Center this season.

“In my 12 years, we haven’t done it once,” Judkins said. “We’ve got to take care of Portland, and that will give us a good start.”

BYU will be facing an experienced Portland team. The Pilots are returning three of last season’s starters. Those starters’ experience and what the team has learned in its previous 26 games will all aid their team.

“I think they’ve improved a lot from last year just looking at their conference record,” BYU guard Haley Steed said. “So it will be good, it will be a fun game. I’m looking forward to it.”

The Cougars have also been playing well recently. BYU’s balanced scoring continues to be a factor in winning games. The bench has outscored its opponents 476–305 this season.

This week is an important and exciting week for BYU. Two games stand between the Cougars and a perfect home record for the season. Along with that, they are also the last two home games for BYU’s two seniors, Haley Steed and Keilani Unga.

“It’s crazy … I don’t think it’s really hit me yet,” Steed said. “We would really like to get two wins. Especially to finish off an undefeated season here at the Marriott Center. We’ve never done that since I’ve been here. That would be something that would be a really memorable way to leave our senior year here at the Marriott Center.”

BYU and Portland tip-off at 7 p.m. MST on Thursday in the Marriott Center.

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