Men’s basketball finishes strong at SMU Classic

 Portland State men’s basketball played three games in three days at the Southern Methodist Classic in Texas this weekend and came home with two wins.

 Portland State men’s basketball played three games in three days at the Southern Methodist Classic in Texas this weekend and came home with two wins.

“It’s tough to prepare and play a team with one style,” head coach Tyler Geving said. “And then have to [face] a team that plays with a completely different style the next day.”

The Vikings (3-1) opened the tournament playing the host-team Southern Methodist University on Friday afternoon. A solid team from Conference-USA, SMU finished last season with a 7-9 record in conference and 14-17 overall, including an upset victory over perennial powerhouse Memphis.

“SMU has a very talented and athletic roster,” Geving said.

Portland State fell behind early, 17-4, and never recovered. Despite their efforts, the Vikings never got closer than eight points and trailed by double digits the entire second half, eventually earning their first loss of the regular season, 69-53.

The Vikings shot just .409 from the field and .278 from three-point range, struggling to find their rhythm offensively.

Junior Charles Odum was the only Viking to score in double digits, putting up 17 points, two rebounds, two assists and a steal. However, Odum’s aggressive play (2 of 4 3-pointers and 3 of 4 free throws) and senior Paul Guede’s seven points and career-high eight rebounds, weren’t enough to keep Portland State in the game.

SMU was able to dominate the inside and get big-time production from their frontline. Forwards Papa Dia and Robert Nyakundi combined for 39 points and 19 rebounds, as SMU controlled the glass and out-rebounded Portland State 30-26 for the game.

The Vikings, however, had to shrug off the loss quickly, as they faced a tough Lamar team on Saturday.

Portland State again struggled early, falling to an 11-4 deficit in the first half, but a balanced scoring effort that saw five Vikings reach double-figures and gave the team a 59-48 lead at halftime.

Led by a career-high 23 points from sophomore Chris Harriel, the Vikings put up their third-highest scoring total in school history since joining the Big Sky Conference and outgunned Lamar 102-98 for the win.

“Lamar is an underrated team,” Geving said.

Junior-forward Chehales Tapscott was a force inside, and posted a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Senior starting-point guard Melvin Jones bounced back after a quiet game against SMU and scored 18 points with six assists and five rebounds. Odum provided big contributions off the bench again, scoring 13 points, dishing five assists and grabbing four rebounds.

In their final game of the weekend, the Vikings beat UC Riverside 69-58 on Sunday afternoon in perhaps their best performance of the tournament. After a tied game at the half, Portland State took control in the second half, outscoring UC Riverside 33-22 and holding them to just 7-28 field goals.

The Viking’s big men made solid contributions. Junior center Nate Lozeau was hot from the field, scoring 13 points on 6 of 7 shooting from the field. Also, senior forward Philip “Tree” Thomas contributed 10 points off 5 of 9 shootings, with two rebounds and a blocked shot.

Odum, a junior-college transfer from Southern Idaho, scored in double figures for his third straight game with 10 points, four rebounds and three assists. Harriel led the team in scoring again, putting up 18 points, four rebounds and four assists. After four games, the sharp-shooting Harriel leads the team in scoring with 15.5 points per game.

“Chris Harriel had a great game, and Lozeau was great again,” Geving said. “Odum and Thomas gave us a great spark off the bench.”

Portland State showed good balance offensively, with 10 players scoring in double figures in the team’s two victories over the weekend. The team moved the ball and played aggressively in their last two games, recording 40 assists compared to just six assists in the loss to SMU.

The Vikings bombed away, averaging 18 three-pointers per game and shooting .351 on those attempts. Still, the Vikings seemed to be at their best when they clamped down defensively and controlled the paint. Portland State is shooting .481 from the field, .380 from the beyond the arc and .769 at the line through four games this season.

The Vikings have a chance to enjoy Thanksgiving break before returning to practice and playing their next game when the team hosts Seattle University (2-5) on Dec. 1 at the Stott Center. ?  

Vikings’ top SMU Classic performers

Chris Harriel

Sophomore guard

15.3 ppg, 4 rebs, 2 assists, 1.6 steals, .500 FG, .540 3pt, .866 FT

Charles Odum

Junior guard

13.3 ppg, 3.3 rebs, 3.3 assists, .570 FG, .375 3pt, .733 FT

Chehales Tapscott

Junior forward

10.3 ppg, 7 rebs, 2.3 assists, .500 FG, .500 3pt, .833 FT