Only three to go

For the Portland State women’s basketball team, the late-season race for the Big Sky Championship is on, and the Vikings (14–12, 8–5 Big Sky) continued their charge over the weekend in their last home stand of the regular season.

For the Portland State women’s basketball team, the late-season race for the Big Sky Championship is on, and the Vikings (14–12, 8–5 Big Sky) continued their charge over the weekend in their last home stand of the regular season.

It was all Viks on Friday night as they dominated Northern Arizona in a game that started and ended in Portland State success. Unfortunately, the power on the court didn’t transfer to Saturday night, where PSU fell to Northern Colorado, 54–52, with a last-second buzzer beater.

Friday’s meeting with Northern Arizona (5–21, 3–10 Big Sky) started with a clean three-pointer from senior guard Claire Faucher and led to a victory. PSU played an impressive first half, and a three-point shot from junior guard Lexi Bishop put the Vikings ahead by 13 points going into the break.

Continuing their lead, Bishop shot another three to open the second half 36–20. The Vikings continued to gain a lead until a basket by freshman guard Nichole Jackson with 5:46 left in the game put them up by 23 points for their largest lead of the game. From that point it was smooth sailing for the home team, as they put the final score 74–56.

Despite it being late in the season, head coach Sherri Murrell felt the team needed a modification to the starting lineup. Murrell gave junior forward Kate DePaepe and freshman guard Eryn Jones the nod for the start—and the change worked.

“We shook up our lineup. We did it because I think the people that started today worked really well together, and we just have had really bad starts,” Murrell said. “Putting Eryn Jones at point and Claire at off guard…really helped.”

The starting lineup brought about a strong defensive game for the Vikings. Amy Patton put up 18 points for the Lumberjacks to lead NAU in scoring. Murrell claimed it was Portland State defense that held her off from any more.

“I thought she (Bishop) did a great job on Patton. Patton can have 32 on you and even though she scored 18, she could have easily scored 32,” Murrell said.

The game ended with Portland State outshooting Northern Arizona, .492 to .389, and had three players scoring in double digits. Faucher landed 13 points, and junior guard-forward Kelly Marchant and sophomore forward Katy Wade came off the bench to combine for 24 points. Behind the double-digit scorers, junior forward Kelli Valentine also chipped in eight points.

 “It was redemption weekend,” Murrell said. “Those two teams beat us in the early season and really hurt us and we were just determined and confident.”

Unfortunately on Saturday, the Vikings weren’t able to hold that confidence or get their redemption over Northern Colorado (13–14, 5–8 Big Sky). A game that was held close for almost the full 40 minutes was won with a shot by Bears guard Whitley Cox with 1.1 seconds left on the clock, to serve the Vikings a 56–54 defeat in their last home game of the season.

In a back-and-forth first half, the lead changed hands five times, and the largest margin was only five points for either team. A jumper by Northern Colorado’s Jayne Strand followed by another from senior forward Erin Yankus put the score at 24–all going into halftime.

The second half held a similar pattern to the first, with the largest lead either team saw being just six points. The last two and a half minutes, though, decided the outcome of the game.

At 2:28 remaining, Cox evened out the score at 51–all with two good free throws, and with 1:33 left Bears forward Lauren Oosdyke sank one of her two foul shots to put Northern Colorado ahead by one. Just a minute later, with 34 seconds left in the game, Bears Courtney Stoermer made two free throws to put the Bears up by three.

The Vikings answered back, with Marchant sinking a long three-pointer to tie the game at 54–all, but with 1.1 seconds on the clock, Cox hit a jumper to win the game for the Bears.

Despite the loss on Portland State’s Senior Night, Faucher and Yankus combined for 27 points and both scored double digits in their last regular-season game in front of a home crowd. Faucher put up 15 with three assists and three rebounds, while Yankus made 12 with six rebounds.

Murrell said it wasn’t by physical play that the Bears edged her Vikings.

“We weren’t strong mentally,” Murrell said. “We didn’t have our legs underneath us.”

The loss hurt the Vikings in their chase for a first-ever conference championship. They now are behind conference-leading Eastern Washington by two games. The title is still within reach, but PSU will need to win each of their remaining games and have EWU lose at least once.

The Vikings finish the season with the final three games on the road, beginning with Idaho State on Friday.

Scores by period

Fri                              1st    2nd    Final
Northern Arizona        20     36       56
Portland State             33     41      74

Northern Colorado      24     32       56
Portland State             24     30       54


Katy Wade’s ranking in Portland State’s all-time record book for blocks

Blocks Wade needs to break PSU’s single-season record

Combined points for seniors Claire Faucher and Erin Yankus in their last game before a home crowd at the Stott Center

Time remaining, in seconds, when Northern Colorado’s Whitley Cox hit her game-winning jumper

Career steals Faucher has amassed

Combined fast-break points Portland State scored over the weekend