Back to earth

The Vikings did not get to savor the taste of victory for very long after their home win over the Montana Lady Griz on Thursday.

The Vikings did not get to savor the taste of victory for very long after their home win over the Montana Lady Griz on Thursday.

Their revelry was interrupted by a harsh lesson: When you live by the three, you die by the three.

Just one game after beating rival Montana with seven second-half three-pointers, four of which came from senior guard Katia Hadj-Hamou, the Vikings shot a dismal 17 percent, hitting just three of 18 from behind the arc, in their overtime loss to Montana State Saturday at the Stott Center.

Hounded by the Bobcats’ pressure defense and unable to penetrate through the paint, the Vikings hoisted five threes in the extra period but converted only one.

Meanwhile, Montana State guards Erica Perry and Katie Bussey methodically took apart the Portland State defense, entering the lane at will and drawing fouls on the Vikings’ core players. Perry and Bussey combined for a devastating 47 points on the night.

Portland State head coach Sherri Murrell was none too pleased with what she saw from the sidelines.

“Our defensive effort was horrible,” Murrell said after the game. “You have to give credit to [the Bobcats], they’ve got some amazing players who know how to score, but we looked exhausted out there. Our interior defense was just not there.”

While the Vikings gave a lackluster effort on the other side of the ball for much of the contest, there were a number of bright spots in their offensive game, enabling them to stay with the hot-handed Bobcats into extra time. 

Junior guard Claire Faucher had one of her best offensive showings of the year, going off for 25 points and doling out 12 assists.

From the opening tip-off she took a more aggressive approach with the ball, creating her own shots on the perimeter as well as slicing to the hoop for lay-ins.

Senior forward Kelsey Kahle also played well on the offensive end of the floor, scoring 24 points, 20 of them coming after halftime, and hit 10 of 11 free throws.

The Vikings out-rebounded the Bobcats 56-45, led by forwards Kelli Valentine (11) and Courtney Cremer (10). Valentine also scored 16 second-half points for a total of 18 in the game.

Despite these valiant individual efforts, the Vikings failed to communicate effectively on either end of the floor—particularly in the crucial minutes that made up the overtime period—and committed error after error, holding the door open for Montana to slip out of the Stott Center with the win.

The disappointing effort scuffs the Vikings’ conference record with a single loss, bringing them to 7-1 and 14-7 overall. It was particularly frustrating for Murrell, given her squad’s brilliant play just two days prior in a sensational performance against Montana.

“Mental mistakes are what killed us,” Murrell said. “We threw the ball away, missed some key box-outs down the line and made all sorts of costly errors.”

The rare home loss is only the second for the Vikings on the season with the first coming at the hands of Utah Valley on Jan. 2. With the defeat, the Vikings fall into a tie for first place in the conference with the Montana Lady Griz, who defeated Eastern Washington on Saturday.

On Thursday, the team will travel to Northern Arizona University with hopes of getting back on the winning track.