A Viking and pilot clash

An intercity matchup is up next for the Portland State men’s basketball team at the Chiles Center in North Portland. The game, taking place on Dec. 3, will be a chance for the Vikings to build on a strong start to their season.

Since PSU reinstated their basketball program in 1996–97 they have played the University of Portland 17 times, with the Pilots winning 10 of those meetings. UP also leads the all-time series 34–17.

Last year, besides beating the Vikings, the Pilots played about .500 ball, finishing with a record of 15–16 and a first round exit in the West Coast Conference tournament.

UP’s head coach Eric Reveno has worked on the Bluff for eight seasons now and has a penchant for developing quality big men. Five of Revenos’ players have gone on to play for professional teams in Europe.

This season features a 6-foot 11-inch senior center from the Netherlands, Thomas van der Mars, who leads his team in rebounds with nine per game. ­Volodymyr Gerun, another 6-foot 11-inch senior and international player from Ukraine, fills out this formidable frontcourt. He is second on the team in scoring (13.8) and rebounding (7.3).

PSU will attempt to counter the Pilot’s size with their slightly smaller, yet hopefully more athletic frontcourt. The Vikings start three guards, and their two forwards, Tiegbe Bamba and Collin Spickerman, are 6-foot 6-inch and 6-foot 8-inch respectively. The only comparable size PSU has to offer is the Rainier, Oregon native and fifth-year senior Brandon Cataldo. The 6-foot 10-inch big man shoots a high percentage for his career (.570), and while he only plays around seven minutes per game, could see much more time against UP’s post players.

We can always expect strong guard play from this year’s Vikings squad. The three starters, Gary Winston, Bryce White and Winston Douglas, combine to average 34 points. Off the bench comes sparkplug and defending Big Sky Sixth Man of the Year DaShaun Wiggins. The 6-foot 2-inch senior leads his team in scoring with 16 a game, and his ease at getting to the free throw line could be a big difference maker against the Pilots.

The Vikings began the 2014–15 campaign with four straight wins, one of the best starts in school history. They shocked the college basketball world by beating University of Southern California in a nationally televised game at the Galen Center in Los Angeles, California.

It was the first time PSU defeated the Trojans in men’s basketball, but only their second meeting. PSU has never beaten two Pac-12 teams in the same year and had the opportunity at a Nov. 30 game against in-state rival University of Oregon.

Oregon would end up handily defeating PSU 81–59. The Vikings held a very early lead, but a 27–1 run by the Ducks put them up big and they kept PSU in the rear view throughout the game.

The Vikings went ice cold, shooting .258 from the field for the game. The Ducks shot .453 and had 11 three balls compared to PSU’s four. The leading scorer for PSU was Wiggins with 15, though UO was able to contain most other Viking players. The Ducks totaled 12 blocked shots in the game, led by ­Jordan Bell with six.

After the UP game, PSU will continue their road play when they meet UC Riverside in California. The Highlanders are Division 1 and play in the Big West Conference. This year they are 3–3. Vikings basketball continues even into the winter break. Find their full schedule and complete game recaps at GoViks.com.