Portland Pilots ready for NCAA Tournament game against Oklahoma

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — The Pilots have been on the ground in Los Angeles for the NCAA Tournament for 24 hours and are soaking in every second, including some rays.

“It’s surreal that we’re even here in the first place,” said forward Alex Fowler. “It’s an honor for our whole team to be here. Every team wants to come to this tournament. It’s also nice that we get some sunshine. The whole team was out by the pool, which was really nice.”

“It’s just so fun,” said guard Maisie Burnham. “All these experiences that we’re getting right now are so fun, and we’re just going to soak up every one of them and just be super grateful that we’re here.”

Another perk of the NCAA Tournament? Getting to play in historic venues, and there aren’t many as historic as UCLA’s Pauley Pavilion.

“I mean, it’s fun, just look at it,” said Burnham with a huge smile. “It’s beautiful.”

As for fifth-seeded Oklahoma, the twelfth-seeded Pilots know they have their hands full with a team that ranks second in the country in scoring and averages nine threes per game.

Fowler, though, remains confident in her squad’s chances.

“We’re a team that likes to get other teams out of their style of play and pressure and get all over them,” said Fowler. “If we’re able to do that and stop their transition buckets and their three-point game, I think we can come out with a dub.”

Oklahoma’s head coach Jennie Baranczyk understands this Portland team’s mentality more than others, as she was coaching at the mid-major level at Drake just two years ago.

Couple that with UP’s win over a top-20-ranked Gonzaga team in the WCC championship, and she isn’t underestimating this squad.

“They’re not their seed. They’re going to be a lot better than what they’re seeded,” said Baranczyk. “They also have that confidence. I watched them play Gonzaga too, and Gonzaga, as we all know, is a very good basketball team, so for them to play that hard and have that much energy, you’ve got to be ready. You’ve got to be ready for them.”

Portland will take on Oklahoma in the first round of the NCAA Tournament on Saturday at 6 PM on ESPNU.

As Reported by KOIN.com