Pilots nearly earn a title

Portland women's hoop reaches WNIT final

Cliff Pfenning
May 3, 2021

The Portland women’s basketball team came up just short in a thrilling championship game against the Cleveland State Vikings at the Women’s Basketball Invitational championship March 20.

The Vikings got a big late three-pointer from Destiny Leo and held on for a 67-64 victory at the William Exum Center in Frankfort, Ky.

Sophomore forward Alex Fowler led the Pilots (14-13) with 22 points and seven rebounds. Fowler capped her second year on The Bluff as the quickest player in Division I program history to score 1,000 points as she passed the mark in the team’s semifinal victory over Northern Arizona.

Senior guard Maddie Muhlheim finished the championship game with 13 points and a career-best seven steals. In the semis, Muhlheim became the school’s all-time leader in three-pointers made.

Junior point guard Haylee Andrews added a double-double with 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Pilots in the final.

Portland entered the tournament 0-7 all-time in postseason play, but raced to the title game in comfortable fashion with wins over Abilene Christian (67-42) and Northern Arizona (80-65) in the first two tournament games.

The title game featured six ties and ten lead changes.

Portland concluded the 2020-21 season with its second consecutive winning season in the first two years under head coach Michael Meek. Last year the Pilots qualified for the NCAA Tournament for the first time since 1997, but the tournament was not played due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The future looks bright as Portland will return All-West Coast Conference first teamers Fowler and Haylee Andrews, as well as All-WCC freshman Emme Shearer and ten total players from this year’s roster.

Cliff Pfenning

Cliff is the publisher of Oregonsports.com, and has decades of experience in writing, photography, videography and graphic design. He's been a sportswriter in Oregon for more than three decades and has even taught sports broadcasting in Portland. He lives in North Portland in a house built in 1912 that has a backyard deck easily turned into a 'Top Golf' set-up for wiffle golf balls ... and cornhole.