New year, same goals for women’s basketball

Portland State women’s basketball enters 2011 with even win and loss columns, having gone 6-6 overall during the first half of the season.

Portland State women’s basketball enters 2011 with even win and loss columns, having gone 6-6 overall during the first half of the season.

The Vikings have struggled on the road, where the team has gone 1–5, but at home they have earned convincing wins and hold a 4–1 record.

Winter break proved to have some of the toughest opponents for the Vikings to date, as they faced big-name schools such as Georgia Tech, Brigham Young and Nevada. The Vikings were handed losses in all three of those games, and went 2-3 during the break. While the losses were disappointing, the Dec. 28 victory over University of Portland will likely be remembered as a classic.

After spending most of the game trailing, the Viks rallied with six minutes left to tie the game at 57-all with three minutes remaining on the clock. Portland State center Courtney Cremer and forward Katy Wade came up with key blocks in the closing minutes to save the win, earning the Vikings a 64-62 win over the cross-town rival Pilots.

The game was important to help build confidence back up for the team, but it was a monumental night for one player in particular. Kelli Valentine pulled down her 500th rebound and now is among just 10 players in Portland State women’s basketball history to have 1,000 points and 500 rebounds in

their career.

Reaching such a milestone has proven not to be a distraction in any way for Valentine or her teammates. The Viks are still focused on their first Big Sky Conference matchup against Eastern Washington on Saturday.

This match brings hope of grabbing PSU’s first-ever Big Sky regular season title and taking the momentum into the Big Sky Championship in March.

While the record does not show what the Viks’ true potential is for the rest of this season, some of the statistics have been impressive. Valentine has been putting up solid numbers so far—averaging 10 points and 4.4 rebounds per matchup and has 17 steals to go along with it.

Sophomore guard, and Boise State transfer, Courtney VanBrocklin has been averaging 12.8 points and 6 rebounds in her first year as a Viking, and has also managed 19 steals. Other players, such as junior guard Eryn Jones, have been putting up solid numbers so far this season. Jones is averaging 13 points and 3.6 rebounds.

Every member of the team has been fighting hard, and will likely try to put any road woes behind them as they enter the start of the regular season. Four out of five of the first conference matchups are on the road, and the Viks will be playing an Eastern Washington team that is going to want redemption after a poor performance in the conference championship last year.

Head coach Sherri Murrell has stressed the importance of simply “winning the day” and taking each game one at a time. The mantra sounds simple, but taking each win or loss one day at a time, and then moving onto the next matchup is exactly what Portland State needs to remain focused as they go into their first week of conference games.

Portland State faces a struggling Eastern Washington team Saturday, but the Vikings need to stay disciplined if they plan to come back from their road trip with a win. Creating a strong defensive presence from the beginning will be key and if they do that, the three-point shot will give them the edge to start off the conference play with a bang.