It was do or die for the Vikings Saturday in Cheney, Wash. And with a 92-86 victory over the Eagles, the men’s team holds on to their playoff bid. The win gives Portland State (7-7 in conference play) a leg up in the race for the Big Sky’s sixth and final playoff spot.
It was do or die for the Vikings Saturday in Cheney, Wash. And with a 92-86 victory over the Eagles, the men’s team holds on to their playoff bid.
The win gives Portland State (7-7 in conference play) a leg up in the race for the Big Sky’s sixth and final playoff spot.
After last week’s tough loss to Weber State at the Stott Center, the Eastern Washington Eagles (6-8) were threatening to knock the Vikings from the conference tournament. A Portland State loss Saturday would have sealed the deal.
But the Vikings, led by junior guard Deonte Huff, who scored a career-high 23 points, would not be prepared to go quietly into the night. Outside of his usual starting role, Huff came off the bench and hit nine of his 12 shots from the field.
In his place, head coach Ken Bone started senior center Anthony Washington alongside junior center Scott Morrison. The move energized Washington, who finished with season and career highs of 14 points and 11 rebounds.
Freshman point guard Emmanuel Jenkins also put together one of his best games as a Viking. Jenkins hit crucial free throws down the stretch on his way to 11 points and three assists in just 10 minutes of play.
Big Sky scoring leader Rodney Stuckey had a game-high 36 points for the Eagles.
The win was Portland State’s first in five games against Eastern Washington.
With wins in their final two home games, the Vikings can punch their playoff tickets. They host Sacramento State on Feb. 22 and Idaho State on the 24th. Eastern Washington plays the same two teams in reverse order and still maintains an outside chance if the Vikings stumble.
In their earlier meeting this season, the Vikings fell 97-93 to Sacramento State in a game widely believed to be the Hornets’ (3-9 in Big Sky) most complete of the season. The next night the Vikings traveled to and beat Idaho State (7-5). Eastern Washington is also 1-1 against the two teams, but their win came at Sacramento.
Before the Vikings make their final run at the playoffs they will take a week off from conference play, traveling to San Luis Obispo to take on Cal Poly in an ESPN BracketBuster invitation game this Saturday. The game will not be televised.