Defense dwindles and finally disappears

The men’s basketball team is getting beat on their own court. The Vikings lost twice last week, both losses coming at the Stott Center. Men’s basketball has shown improvement from last year. However, it still needs some work.

The Vikings know how to play a fierce first half. They come onto the court playing good basketball – making clean, strong passes, shooting well, scoring with ease. Often, PSU leads at the half. However, during the second half the Vikings have a tendency to exchange the lead, and they end up losing the game.

Why is this? Maybe the Vikings get too tired from their impressive first half. Maybe they slack on both defense and offense. Whatever the reason, they need to figure out what it is and work on it before their next game. The Vikings take on Montana this Thursday, February 5, in Missoula, Montana.

Earlier this year when Montana visited Portland during our snow week, the Vikings beat the Grizzlies 89-78. This was a long awaited win for the Vikings as the Grizzlies had won each of the last five games against the Vikings in Portland. Montana is currently stuck at the bottom of the Big Sky with PSU with a 2-5 record in conference play. That said, both teams possess star-caliber players.

For the Grizzlies, Kamarr Davis averages 13.5 points per game, while Kevin Criswell averages 12.7 points, and 5.1 rebounds per game. John Seyfert averages 5.4 rebounds per game. Derrick Mansell is tied for fourth in the Big Sky with PSU’s own Will Funn at 3.95 assists per game. Funn is also ranked fourth for steals at 1.95.

For the Vikings, Junior Seamus Boxley still leads the Big Sky in rebounding with 9.6 rebounds per game. Boxley also leads the conference with 6.85 defensive rebounds per game. Boxley ranks second in the Big Sky for field goal percentage at 56 percent, and he ranks seventh in scoring with an average 13.9 points per game.

Junior Blake Walker is now ranked fourth in the Big Sky with 15.9 points per game, and sixth in rebounding with 5.6 rebounds per game. Junior Antone Jarrell has a field goal percentage of 46 percent putting him in the top 15 in the Big Sky for field goal percentage. Junior Sheu Oduniyi is ranked seventh in the Big Sky for free throws at 79 percent.

Thursday’s game against Montana is an away game, but that might give the Vikings a chance at a win. “We have to get in the gym and work hard” said Seamus Boxley. “Our backs are against the wall and we’ve got to go on the road and make something happen.”

What happened last week? The Vikings lost to both Weber state 68-63 and to Idaho State (80-71). These losses put the Vikings at 2-5 in the Big Sky.

The Weber State Wildcats grabbed the win late in the second half. Nic Sparrow, Lance Allred, and John Hamilton all contributed significantly. Allred led the Wildcats with 21 points and six rebounds. Sparrow had 18 points and a game-high eight rebounds, and Hamilton brought in 14 points for the win. With only 3:39 left in the game, Hamilton’s jump shot landed Weber State with the lead for the first time in the game.

Portland State came out and played dominated the first half of the game. This is nothing out of the ordinary for the Vikings. They moved the ball around exceptionally well, played aggressive defense, and they took advantage of their offensive opportunities. Then in the second half the Vikings let it all slip away – again. “We have to learn to sustain our effort,” said junior Antone Jarrell.

Jarrell and freshmen Marshall Hartman came out shooting strong in the first few minutes of the game. Jarrell ended with a 20-point game, and Hartman had his season high with a 13-point game. Junior Sheu Oduniyi contributed eight points. Junior Will Funn had only two points but he helped his teammates earning seven assists.

Thursday wasn’t Seamus Boxley’s greatest game. With only nine points, Boxley had a disappointing seven turnovers to go with four rebounds, and fouled out late in the game. Commenting on Thursday’s game, Boxley said, “We’re not ready to give up. We’re not ready to let it go. We see where we are. We’re just having a hard time finishing.”

As for “finishing,” Saturday’s game wasn’t much better for the Vikings. They lost to Idaho State 80-71. Junior Seamus Boxley may have had a disappointing game on Thursday, but it didn’t happen again Saturday. Boxley was the Viking’s leading scorer with 22 points, and he had a career-high 16 rebounds. Boxley’s defense was evident, as 12 of his 16 rebounds were defensive. Junior Blake Walker added 17 points to PSU’s total, and Senior Seth Scott brought in 10 points, seven rebounds and three blocked shots. Senior John Glaser had three assists.

Idaho State’s 37-34 lead at halftime didn’t change the second half struggles the Vikings commonly have when leading at the half. Offensively, the Vikings shot only 39 percent in the second half, after shooting a solid 50 percent in the first half of the game! Idaho hit 56 percent in the first half and 53 percent in the second half of the game.

Idaho State’s win in Portland on Saturday marks the first time the Bengals have beaten the Vikings at PSU. For the Bengals, Marquis Poole scored a game-high 29 points – 19 in the second half. Jeff Gardner contributed 17 points and four steals. Scott Henry had 12 points, seven rebounds, and six assists. Nate Rede brought in 10 points to the Bengal’s win.

In order to prevent another loss in the Big Sky Conference, the Vikings will have to step it up on the road this week. The men’s basketball team is hoping to end its three game losing streak.