With winter break and a losing skid safely in the rearview mirror, Portland State basketball hit the road for an important two game road trip last week, starting at Idaho State on Thursday. Plainly put, things did not go as planned.
Defensive struggles have plagued PSU as of late. They have now dropped five of their last six games after losing both on the road last week—first at Idaho State, then at Weber State. It was conference-opening weekend for the Vikings, who dropped to 5–6 overall on the season, and 0–2 in conference.
“We’ve got to stick together more than anything right now,” said head coach Tyler Geving, as he tried to keep his team positive following the two losses.
After starting the season 4–1, the Vikings ran into trouble as December rolled around and the competition got stiffer. The crosstown rival Portland Pilots came to the Stott Center and bullied PSU down low, using their size advantage to put the Vikings away 92–76. The loss to the Pilots was a direct contrast to their previous game, when the high-flying Broncos of Boise State, the highest scoring team in the country, pulled away late to a 76–60 win.
A loss to Idaho would be the low mark of the losing streak, before it ended with the convincing win against Evergreen—improving the Vikings all-time record against them to 3–0. Montana, back-to-back Big Sky Conference champs, is looking to hold off Weber State and preseason conference player-of-the-year candidate Davion Berry.
Portland State got to see Berry first hand when they met Saturday, and he was as good as advertised, although it was a barrage of three-pointers from the Wildcats that put the game out of reach. Weber State took both meetings last season as well, setting up an important late season rematch for the Vikings, as they look to gain some confidence against the Wildcats.
The Big Sky website predicts Portland State to finish ninth in the conference, according to preseason polls. After falling into an 0–2 hole, they have their work cut out for them to make it to the postseason. Weber State, on the other hand, looks to be headed towards another conference title. After the loss Saturday, Geving found some light at the end of the dark tunnel.
“We played them tough. They’re the best team in the conference. I’m telling you this, if we play with that effort, night in and night out—we’ll be alright guys,” Geving told his team in the locker room following the loss. “When we move the ball and do what we do…it’s good stuff.”
This trip also offered fans a unique, behind-the-scenes look at life on the road for a collegiate basketball team. The Vanguard was along, every step of the way with the Vikings. Check back next week for a rare glimpse inside the program.