The Portland State Vikings beat the Montana Grizzlies Thursday night, Jan. 19 with a score of 88–79. The win pushed PSU’s record to 7–1 at home and ended the Grizzlies’ three-game winning streak against the Vikings. Overall, PSU improved to 11–6, 4–2 Big Sky. The Viks also avoided pushing their losing streak to two games.
De’Sean Parsons got the Vikings on the board first hitting a jumper, but the Grizzlies came back and scored right away. The opening plays foreshadowed how back-and-forth the first half would be. Neither team could get a big lead over the other, only managing to get small leads of four or six points. The game looked to be more of a defensive struggle with a few spectacular offensive plays.
After PSU took a 27–24 lead, Montana’s defense held the Vikings scoreless for three minutes straight. Calaen Robinson stopped the Grizzlies run with a great steal and fast break dunk to pull PSU within one. Senior point guard Zach Gengler hit his first points of the game, a three-pointer, to give the Vikings back the lead, 32–30.
Brandon Hollins scored the last six points of the first half for PSU, giving the Viks a 37–34 lead. In the first half, the lead changed 16 times and the score tied eight times. The Vikings didn’t relinquish their lead for the rest of the game.
As the second half opened, the Vikings had everything put together and came out on fire. At first it looked like the game would remain close as PSU opened with a score and Montana answered to cut the lead to four, but the Vikings then went on a run started by a Traylin Harris jumper and a Parson’s three.
PSU extended its lead to 18 before the Grizzlies finally responded with a dunk. After Montana cut the Vikings lead to 16, they would go on another run, capped off by a Deontae North three pointer to give them their biggest lead of the game, 22, 67–45. PSU would match the lead a couple more times as the Grizzlies tried to claw their way back into the game.
With 8:59 left in the game it looked like the Vikings would cruise to a victory over the second best team in the Big Sky conference. The Grizzlies had other plans, and Montana made the game exciting again. The Vikings couldn’t find any offense and committed turnovers and fouls. Errors contributed to a Grizzlies run that saw the lead cut to 6 points, 73-67, with 3:12 left in the game.
That was the closest the Grizzlies would get, as Gengler hit a three to end the run and give the Vikings a little breathing room. Gengler also played hero at the free throw line going 6/6 to push PSU’s lead back 11, 83–72. In the final 29 seconds the Grizzlies would have to resort to fouling to try to keep the game close. Brandon Hollins went 5/6 on the line to preserve the win for the Vikings 88–79. He also ended the game with a defensive rebound.
Zach Gangler and Calaen Robinson lead the team with 15 a piece. De’Sean Parsons added 12 for the Vikings and lead the team in rebounds with 11. Traylin Farris lead the team on defense with three blocks. The PSU bench helped get the win with 26 points. The Vikings defense scored 17 points off of turnovers. They found success in the paint with 32 points and 14 points on fast breaks. All around it was a good team win and a game that got much too close in the final minutes.