Inside the next game

Portland State: 2-20 (0-10 Big Sky)
Montana State: 8-15 (2-8 Big Sky)

The Portland State women’s basketball team will face Montana State this Thursday in one of their last two home games of the season. The game has added meaning, as the Vikings are on the path to setting a record for futility.

They have lost their last 13 games in a row. The school record is 15 straight losses. The team’s latest pair of shortcomings last weekend was nothing out of the ordinary for the struggling Vikings.

In a game last Thursday at Idaho State the team dropped a 56-73 decision to the Bengals. The usual suspect, poor shooting, killed them. The Viks shot a miserable 32 percent from the field, including 31 percent from shots beyond the arc.

Portland State was led by Sharon Wahinekapu’s career high 19 points on 6-12 shooting. Frosh Delaney Conway added 12 and Heather Arns scored 11 for the Viks. The Bengals were led by 16 points from Natalie Doma.

Weber State proved to be an even larger roadblock, beating PSU 49-71. The Vikings actually led the game 17-9 early in the first half, but a 24-6 WSU run to end the half killed any hopes of a PSU win. Heidi Stuart led the way for the Vikings with 16 points on 7-9 shooting. Arns added 15 points and five assists.

If the Vikings wish to avoid setting the dubious record of 16 losses in a row, Thursday night provides a great chance and a big challenge. Montana State is almost as bad as the Vikings, but there is still a world of difference between the two teams.

The Bobcats come into the game nursing an 8-15 record, including a 2-8 Big Sky mark. They are led by Kati Burrows, who is enjoying a fine season. The 5-foot-10-inch senior is averaging16.1 points and 7.3 boards per contest. Montana State won a Jan. 29 home game 57-75 in Bozeman.

To avoid a repeat performance, the Vikings must turn to the players who have been effective for them in recent games. Heidi Stuart must continue to perform like the senior leader she is and finish the season strong despite an injured left knee. Sharon Wahinekapu has also had success lately and must continue to add decent shooting to the mix.

More than anything, the Vikings must find a way to tighten up the defense that has allowed 70 or more points in three straight games. If they can’t, they will be facing an even worse number – loss number 16.