Men’s basketball pulls off thrilling win over Pepperdine

Portland State sent nearly 1,100 fans home happy on Friday night, as senior small-forward Paul Guede knocked down a corner three-pointer with five seconds left to give the Vikings a 83-81 victory in their season opener against the Pepperdine Waves.

Portland State sent nearly 1,100 fans home happy on Friday night, as senior small-forward Paul Guede knocked down a corner three-pointer with five seconds left to give the Vikings a 83-81 victory in their season opener against the Pepperdine Waves.

With the Stott Center rocking in anticipation, Portland State (1-0) came out and fired away to an early 11-point lead. However, Pepperdine (0-1) wouldn’t go down without a fight. Turnovers, uninspired defense and generally poor Portland State play allowed the Waves to come back and take a 48-41 lead going into the break.

“In the first half, we were just sloppy and came out kind of dull,” junior power-forward Chehales Tapscott said.

Poor shot selection plagued the Vikings—too many quick shots and too many shots from the outside.

“We were a little selfish offensively, taking bad shots, turning the ball over,” head coach Tyler Geving said. “Not to take anything away from [Pepperdine], but we were beating ourselves in the first half.”

Added Geving, “We got way too shot-happy.”

In the second half, the Vikings seemed like a different team. Portland State came out of the locker room fired up—relentlessly crashing the boards and picking up the intensity level on the defensive end.

“It was like night and day,” Geving said of the difference in his team’s play in the first and second halves.

“We were losing because we weren’t playing tough,” Tapscott said. “Coach demanded that we play tougher, attack the glass and work harder on defense, so that’s what we did.”

Pepperdine out-rebounded the Vikings 22-12 in the first half, but Portland State won the battle of the boards in the second half, 18-15. The Vikings also found easy baskets from their defensive pressure, forcing 10 turnovers in the second half.

“There’s toughness plays—rebounding, taking charges, coming up with loose balls,” Geving said. “And we came up with a lot of toughness plays in the second half.”

“We were able to knuckle down and play better defense as a team,” said senior point-guard Melvin Jones, who led the Vikings with 23 points—including five shots from behind the arc.

However, on Friday night the Vikings showed that they’re more than just a run-and-gun, perimeter-oriented offense this season. Portland State pounded the ball inside to their post-players and their physical play visibly wore down the Waves, earning the Vikings multiple trips to the foul line.

“Coach told us to keep getting the ball inside and keep attacking,” Jones said.

Led by their forwards, the Vikings went to the charity stripe 38 times and made 31 of their free throw attempts. Tapscott and senior Phillip “Tree” Thomas were relentless in the paint, combing for an impressive 16 of 22 from the line, and helped Portland State keep the game close down the stretch.

“I was brought here to attack inside, get to the basket and rebound,” Tapscott said. “It’s as simple as that.”

With senior-starter Phil Nelson now sidelined for four to six weeks after re-aggravating an ankle injury in practice earlier this week, the Vikings will need leadership from their other seniors more than ever. Portland State has chosen to take the team approach.

“Leadership is going to be spread around,” Jones said. “Paul stepped up tonight and took a bunch of charges…Tree knocked down his free throws, worked hard and is playing with a lot of confidence.”

And it was the seniors (Jones, Thomas and Guede) who led the way against Pepperdine, their experience showing on and off the court.

“Paul did a great job at halftime, telling the guys to keep their heads up and that we’re still alright.” Geving said.

“Teams are going to make runs, so we have to keep our composure and we knew that if we kept working hard, our run would come in the second half,” Guede said to his teammates.

So, perhaps it was fitting that Guede, a defensive-stopper, not necessarily known for his three-point shooting, would be the hero Friday—but not before he was almost the goat.

With Portland State up by two points, the Waves found senior-forward Jonathan Dupre in the corner. Guede rushed to close out on the shooter, but slipped to the ground instead, which allowed Dupre to hit the open three to give Pepperdine an 81-80 lead with 15 seconds left.

The Vikings opted not to use a timeout and quickly inbounded the ball.

“We’ve practiced [that situation] many times,” Geving said. “If we’re down late in the game, get the ball and go, push the ball up and try to create something before they can get their defense set.”

Jones raced up the court with the ball, driving into the key, and drawing Pepperdine’s defense towards him. He kicked the ball out to the right corner, spotting Guede open and unguarded. With a defender running at him, Guede released his shot.

“I was thinking, ‘Did I just really slip?'” Guede said. “So, when I caught that ball (at the end of the game), I said to myself, ‘This just has to go in.'”

And it did, hitting nothing but net. ?