Portland State improved over last season, but not enough to secure a post-season berth. The Vikings finished out this season with a record of 11-16. Improving by six games on last season, the team finished 5-9 in Big Sky Conference play, but were still at the bottom of the totem-pole.
The Vikings needed to win at least one of last week’s games, but came out with two losses.
The Idaho State Bengals won 82-72 in Pocatello, Idaho last Thursday, February 26. Idaho State finished 12-17, 7-7 in Big Sky conference. The team earned a spot in the post-season by tying Northern Arizona and Weber State at 7-7. The Weber State Wildcats won 71-57 Saturday in Ogden, Utah. The Wildcats completed their regular season at 14-13, 7-7 in Big Sky.
The Vikings trailed behind the Bengals for most of Thursday’s game. By halftime, the Bengals had a 15-point lead. The Vikings shot only 24 percent (7-29) in the first half. Viking Brandon Haughton made an effort off the bench with five rebounds, six points and a blocked shot while Seamus Boxley and Blake Walker sat out with early, first-half foul trouble.
It wasn’t until the second half of the game that the Vikings perked up and played some real ball. After a scoreless (0-6) shooting spree in the first half, junior Blake Walker exploded shortly after halftime, bringing the Vikings back from their 20 point deficit. Walker’s resilience resulted in a 28-point game on a 12-14 shooting streak. Walker brought in five rebounds and two steals as well. Junior Seamus Boxley pulled in six rebounds and 14 points, and freshman Marshall Hartman contributed 14 points and eight rebounds.
This was the most important game of the year for Portland State; however, the Vikings’ bad first half start, and failure to comeback late in the game resulted in their loss to Idaho State. Winning Saturday’s game against Weber State would have put them in a better position for the chance at grabbing a post-season berth, but the Vikings let their chances slip away with another loss.
Weber State came onto the court ready to play. Building a 33-27 halftime lead, the Wildcats hit seven of 10 at the three-point range. John Hamilton led the charge, sinking three bombs and scoring 13 points in the first half. Hamilton totaled 20 points for the game.
In addition to Hamilton, Nic Sparrow and Slobodan Ocokolijic both played crucial roles. Ocokolijic brought in 16 points, and Sparrow brought in 13 points. The combination of Sparrow, Hamilton and Ocokolijic was devastating to the Vikings, and together they scored 49 of the Wildcats’ 71 points. Lance Allred also brought in 12 points and five rebounds.
For the Vikings, Walker had another red-hot night, bringing in 20 points and 10 rebounds. Walker’s three-pointer and strong rebounding by other Vikings brought the Vikings close to the Wildcats’ lead (33-27) at the half. Seamus Boxley had a solid performance with 17 points, 15 rebounds and three blocked shots. Antone Jarrell had 10 points. The Vikings couldn’t overcome the Wildcats’ 9-14 three-point shooting. Portland State out rebounded Weber State 41-24, but it just wasn’t enough.
This season was a big improvement for the Vikings, and it was Portland State’s second season under Head Coach Heath Schroyer.
With any luck, next year the Vikings will obtain the goal of reaching post-season play, but for now the Vikings can take satisfaction in better season and Big Sky Conference marks than last season.