Big loss: big surprise

The Weber State Wildcats were too big for the Vikings to handle. Once again the Portland State women’s basketball team could not pull through in conference play.

Weber State shot an impressive 52.2 percent from the floor and 92.3 percent from the free throw to post a 63-49 win over Portland State last Thursday night at the Dee Events Center.

Even with the Viks committing just 14 turnovers, their lowest total in four Big Sky contests this season, their 31.7 shooting percentage couldn’t pull them through.

Leading by only two at the half, the Wildcats put together an 11-2 run in the first 3:46 of the second half, pushing their lead to 17 points at 58-41 with less than five minutes to play.

Senior forward Sarah Hedgepeth was the only Viking to score in double digits, finishing with 15 points, six rebounds, and six assists as the Viks dropped to 3-15 overall and 0-4 in Big Sky play.

On the flip side, the ‘Cats won with three players in double digits. Weber State’s leading scorer, junior forward, Julie Gjertsen led the team in scoring for the eighth-straight game with 15 points on 6 of 10 shooting from the floor. Gjertsen also brought in six rebounds and six assists. Becky O’Neil added 12 points to the win, as did Angela Sampson posting 12.

Portland State’s loss was another let down. However, Thursday’s14-point margin of defeat appeared rather close when compared to the Vikings three previous conference failures, which were decided by 31, 37 and 32 points.

The Portland State women’s basketball team continued on their road trip Saturday afternoon, playing the Idaho State Bengals in Pocatello, Idaho.

Senior forward Heidi Gifford led the Bengals to the win with 17 points, and 11 rebounds for her second double-double of the season.

Senior center Annie Anderson added 16 points and 11 rebounds for her second consecutive double-double, as Idaho State won its fifth straight, defeating Portland State 77-67.

The win improved the Bengal’s record to 13-5 overall, 5-1 in Big Sky play, and left Portland State’s head coach, George Wolfe scratching his head. With their eighth loss in a row, the Viks are now 0-5 in conference play and 3-16 overall.

After Idaho State took a strong 44-28 lead into the second half, the Vikings battled back, getting within three points of the Bengals at the 10 minute mark.

The Bengals then went on a 9-3 run to widen the lead to nine. The Viks crawled back within five with 3:16 remaining but never got any closer, as the Bengals went on another 9-2 run to expand the lead to 12 with less than a minute to play.

The Viks had two players in double digits. Hedgepeth had game-highs of 18 points and 13 rebounds and junior guard Heidi Stuart posted another 14 points for the Vikings.

Portland State shot 42.4 percent from the field while Idaho State shot 42.0 percent. The Vikings definitely had a stronger second half but that wasn’t enough to get themselves out of the hole they placed themselves in during the first half.

“Hey, it wasn’t pretty, but any win in a conference game is big,” said Bengals’ Head Coach Joe Newlee. “It doesn’t matter how ugly or beautiful it is, a win is a win and we will take it.”

Idaho State was picked to finish seventh and out of the conference tournament in both the pre-season polls. Surprisingly, Idaho State is tied for second with a 5-1 league mark, and13-5 overall.

As the only team in the Big Sky without a conference victory, the Portland State women’s basketball team has something to prove to any team they go up against. Now, after four consecutive road games – none of which ended in a Viking victory – the team returns home to the Stott Center.

Portland State will be at home this week, with the comfort of home court advantage. The team plays Montana on Thursday night and Montana State Saturday night. Tip off for both games is at 7:00 p.m. in the Peter Stott Center.