As if missing the playoffs wasn’t painful enough. In the final seconds of Saturday night’s contest, the Idaho State University Bengals’ Tomas Sanchez hit a game-winning jump shot to beat Portland State 72-71. With the defeat, the Vikings finished their season 8-20 overall and 5-15 in the Big Sky Conference. The team was 0-14 on the road this season.
As if missing the playoffs wasn’t painful enough.
In the final seconds of Saturday night’s contest, the Idaho State University Bengals’ Tomas Sanchez hit a game-winning jump shot to beat Portland State 72-71. With the defeat, the Vikings finished their season 8-20 overall and 5-15 in the Big Sky Conference. The team was 0-14 on the road this season.
With Portland State leading 71-70 with just 20 seconds remaining, Dre Winston Jr. was fouled and went to the free throw line for a one-and-one. He missed his first attempt, and the Bengals secured the rebound and headed back to the other end. Idaho State’s Melvin Morgan missed a shot with 11 seconds left, but Sanchez rebounded the ball and found the bottom of the net on a 15-footer. Lateef McMullan threw up a jumper as the clock expired, but it was off the mark, and the Bengals left with the win.
All five Viking starters scored in double-figures in the loss, led by Gary Winston’s 14 points. Seniors McMullan and Renado Parker added 13 and 10 points, respectively, in their final game for PSU. Idaho State’s Chris Hansen came off the bench to lead all scorers with 16.
The Vikings were just 10-19 from the line on the night, out of character for a team that finished the year ranked second in the Big Sky in free-throw shooting, at 74.3 percent. PSU was also outrebounded by their opponents 43-28, a scenario that has been a problem for the team all year. Vikings head coach Tyler Geving acknowledged both flaws when discussing the dramatic final seconds.
“That just sums up the game,” Geving said. “We didn’t make a free throw late and gave up an offensive rebound at the end.”
The defeat in Pocatello was preceded by an 80-52 blowout loss to conference powerhouse Weber State University on Thursday. The Wildcats outrebounded the Vikings 44-23 as Scott Bamforth and Joel Bolomboy each recorded double-doubles. Parker led the Vikings with 13 points.
The 2012–13 season was a disappointment for PSU, which finished third in the Big Sky a year ago. They had the conference’s worst defense in terms of field goal percentage this year, allowing opponents to shoot at a rate of 48.4 percent.
The Vikings said goodbye to five seniors, including three of five starters—Parker, McMullan and Michael Harthun—who accounted for nearly half of the team’s scoring. McMullan alone dished out almost one-third of the team’s assists. Harthun, who had been playing the best basketball of his career as of late, injured his knee in practice early last week and missed his final two games as a Viking. Seniors Michael Harvey and Martin Whitmore will also be missed for their energy off the bench.
Looking ahead to next season, the Vikings will likely be led by returning starter Aaron Moore and key contributors Gary Winston and Winston Jr., while Brandon Cataldo and Lamont Prosser will look to stay healthy and become contributors as well. After a tough season, it’s all uphill from here.