Men’s basketball drops two on home floor

The weekend kicked off league competition for the men’s basketball team. It started out in a more than comfortable place, where they had only dropped three out of its last 16 games: the Stott Center. Friday night was the conference home opener and Student Appreciation Night, with a turnout of more than 1,300 spectators gathering to watch Portland State play Montana State. Then on Saturday night the Vikings took on the University of Montana Grizzlies. The plans of a clean home sweep of the Montana schools were spoiled as Portland State surrendered both games along with the home court advantage.

Montana State improved its record to 9-6, 2-0 on Friday night as they outplayed the Vikings in the second half for a final score of 74-68. The Bobcats were able to put five players in double figures, including two off the bench for a balanced attack. The first half favored a hot shooting Portland State (55.2 percent). The halftime score read 37-34 in favor of the Vikings.

“I thought we played good defense, they just hit their shots. We missed some easy lay-ups and we need to improve our work on the boards,” freshmen Aaron Fitzgerald said.

In the second half it was a different story, as the Vikings’ shooting dropped off to 42.3 percent and Bobcats improved, hitting an even 50 percent from the field. The Vikings were out-rebounded 35-26, but committed two fewer turnovers with 11. Only Anthony Lackey and Fitzgerald were able to get into double figures for the Vikings. Lackey had 21 points to lead all scores in the game, and Fitzgerald finished with 14 on 5-11 shooting from the floor.

“Lackey really played a great game for us,” Fitzgerald said.

On Saturday night, the Vikings took on the Montana Grizzlies. The Grizzlies came out firing, and doing it very well, shooting a tremendous 67.7 percent from the field in the first half and hitting on their first 19 of 23 shots. Riding on the hot shooting of reserve guard David Bell, who went 6-8 in the first half, all from beyond the arc. Portland State found itself down big going into the locker room, as Montana lead 57-39 by halftime.

“Montana just shot the heck out of the ball and we lacked energy on both ends,” sophomore forward Seamus Boxley said.

In the second half, the crowd saw more fine shooting from Montana, but from the Viking side as well. Portland State was able to make a 25-6 run about half way into the second half to cut a 25 point deficit down to just six. But that was as close as Montana would let the Vikings get, as they connected on an opponent record for three- pointers made (16). The final score read 99-88. The Vikings did showcase all five starters, who each scored in double figures. Portland State was out rebounded 33-27, and out shot for the game 63.5 percent to 48.4 percent.

“It was good to see that we had the energy to come back from being down by so much, but it’s disappointing we didn’t hold our home court,” Boxley said.

Next up for Portland State will be three straight road games. First, the team will travel to Cheney, Wash. to play the Eastern Washington Eagles on Saturday. The following week the Viks will return to the road to take on Idaho State and Weber State.