Big sky country brings basketball blues

Last week Portland State basketball, both the men’s and women’s teams, began the second half of conference play with matchups against the Montana Grizzlies and Montana State Bobcats. The men, who traveled to Montana, split their home games against these teams in early January. The women hosted the Montana schools amidst Portland’s snow storm, hoping to avenge a pair of road losses.

The men’s squad entered Missoula, Montana with a record of 11-8 and a four game win streak. The last encounter between these two teams was a triple overtime thriller that ended with a game winning three-pointer by junior guard Gary Winston. This time around the game once again went into extra minutes after Grizzlies guard Keron DeShields made a driving layup to tie the game 69-all at the end of regulation.

DeShields and Vikings big man Kyle Richardson lead their respective teams through overtime. DeShields scored 12 of his 19 points in OT en route to a Montana win, 82-76. Richardson had a career night, racking up 25 points, 12 boards, and three blocks in the losing effort.

In their final Montana matchup of this regular season the PSU men headed into Bozeman, Mont. hoping to bounce back from the tough loss. After being tied at 32-32 at the half, the Vikings readily scored, going up by as much as 10. But the Montana State Bobcats came back, executing down the stretch to scrape out a win, 69-64. Besides the early second-half run, PSU had a dismal shooting night at 38 percent and nothing was falling at key moments. They returned home after this pair of stinging loses.

Back in Portland, after classes were canceled on Thursday afternoon and most of the PSU campus closed up early, the Peter W. Stott Center kept its doors open for the evening matchup against the Montana Lady Grizzlies. The opposing team and officials were already in town so it made little sense to reschedule the game.

A season-low attendance of 211 braved the snow only to watch the Lady Vikings stumble in a 55-65 loss. PSU had an eight point lead at halftime, but a 12-0 run by Montana to start the second half fueled them all the way to a win. PSU struggled to make shots when they needed them, though freshman point guard Delanie Parry scored a career-high nine points in her second collegiate start.

Allie Brock and Mikaela Rivard were tied for team-high scoring with 11 points each. Now 0-3 against schools from Montana, head coach Sherri Murrel and crew had one last chance against Montana State in a Saturday game. Under similar snowy conditions, the Bobcats came to PSU with an 11-9 season record. Because of the weather, the athletic department did not charge admission for the game in addition to the usual free hot dogs, popcorn, and soda available at all PSU basketball games.

It was recommended on that folks stay indoors and not come to the game, but 148 people made the effort to attend, and were rewarded with a Viking victory, 72-61. Sophomore guard Emily Esom continued her impressive offense, leading the Lady Viks with a career high 27 points. She scored in a variety of ways: six 2-point field goals, three 3-pointers, and 12 made free throws. She is now the team’s leading scorer averaging 12.0 per game. It may have been the best defensive performance for the women’s team all season, they held Montana State to 31.7 percent shooting and out-rebounded them 44-36.

Both Portland State basketball teams have struggled on the road this season. The men are 1-7, the women 1-8.

This week the women’s team (6-15, 4-8) hits the road for games against Northern Arizona and Sacramento State. They played this pair in mid-January and split the games, defeating Sacramento State. The men (11-10, 6-6) will host those same teams and also beat Sacramento State before losing to Northern Arizona the last time around.