Back in the ‘Blocks

Portland State women’s basketball does it big for their fans at home, but apparently the same is true of the Idaho State Bengals.

Portland State women’s basketball does it big for their fans at home, but apparently the same is true of the Idaho State Bengals.

The Vikings suffered a 63-58 loss to the Bengals Thursday night, halting a five-game winning streak and dropping the team from a tie for third in the Big Sky standings to a tie for fourth. PSU comes home this Thursday to face Weber State with the hopes of moving back up the rankings during the final weeks of regular season play.

The comeback team that made up an 18-point deficit against Eastern Washington earlier in the season was unable to work its magic against Idaho State. Midway through the first half, the Bengals grabbed a small lead and the Viks were never able to regain control of the court. PSU tied four times and held small leads twice in the second half, but it wasn’t enough to ward off the Bengals.

With under a minute left in the game, Bengals sophomore forward Ashleigh Vella put up two free throws to put the home team up by eight, and in 46 seconds the Viks were unable to make up the difference. A jumper and a free throw from PSU sophomore guard Courtney VanBrocklin put the score within four, and one more free throw for the Bengals ended the game 63-58.

For the Viks, shots were not falling. PSU shot just 31.8 percent from inside the paint, and even more painful 16.7 percent from above the arc. Senior forward Kelli Valentine said that the team usually relies on solid shooting from key players, and when that doesn’t happen, the energy level is greatly lost.

“We usually feed off of a couple of guards when they’re hitting shots pretty consistently,” Valentine said. “We feed off of them and when those shots aren’t falling, it’s hard to get our momentum and our energy as a team up.”

Despite the rough shooting, Valentine came away from the game with her third double-double in two weeks with 15 points and 11 rebounds. Junior forward Shauneice Samms also pitched in a double-double with an even 12 points and 12 rebounds.

The two sharpshooters will need to continue their performance this Thursday as the team vies for a higher standing in the Big Sky. The Viks take on the Weber State Wildcats who beat the Viks in the first matchup between the teams this season. The Wildcat win was the only win the team has seen in regular season as they stand in eighth place with a record of 5-17 (1-9 Big Sky).

In their last meeting, Weber State pushed past the stunned Vikings for a 65-62 victory. The close game landed both teams with three players in double-digit points. Junior guard Eryn Jones led the Viks with 20 points, while senior forward Caitlin Anderson led the Wildcats with 23. The game saw a final tie with 18 seconds to go, but Weber State kept fighting and, with three free throws, sealed their single conference victory of the season.

While PSU comes into this Thursday’s game off of a close road loss, Weber State is in the opposite position as the team comes off of a close home loss. Like the Viks, the ‘Cats fought until the end to finish down just six 73-63 against the Eastern Washington Eagles.

The ‘Cats had three players in double digits, but unlike the PSU match earlier in the season, Anderson was not the high scorer. The forward pitched in 11, with junior forward Mikell Woodfield leading with 14 and 10 rebounds and freshman guard Justine Johnson with 12 points.

Both teams have strong motives coming into this Thursday’s game. The Wildcats need to begin the uphill battle to clinch a last spot in the postseason play, and the Viks want to get back into the top three rankings that they recently fell out of.

But the Viks do have one plus—they will be in the Park Blocks. Valentine said that the home court advantage is a huge one for PSU.

She added, “Playing at home brings this natural good vibe to the team—we are pretty comfortable playing in front of familiar people; that will all play a big part in the team’s energy.”

With the season winding down, each game is more important than the last, and both the Wildcats and the Vikings know this. The game is slated for 7 p.m. at the Stott Center on Thursday. ?