Portland State women’s basketball notched their second conference win 75-73 over Montana State, after squeaking by the Bobcats late Saturday night at the Stott Center.
Portland State (8-10, 2-3 Big Sky) started the game strong, going on a 12-4 run and leading by as much as 14. The Bobcats clawed their way back in the second half and took their first lead with 8:01 left on the clock. Junior guard Alyssa Nelson sunk a free throw to complete a three-point play giving Montana State the edge 60-61.
Portland almost unraveled but outstanding play by freshman forward Kelsey Kahle and back-up freshman point guard Kailey Bostwick saved the day.
It was Kahle’s day against the Bobcats and she put on a show. “The Dominator” in this game, Kahle went off, scoring 27 points on 11-15 shooting, grabbing 10 rebounds and coming up with two huge blocks on jump-shot attempts.
With over two minutes left to play, Kahle stole the ball and scored on a fast-break layup giving Portland the lead and making the score the final margin of 75-73. Kahle then put a monster block on a Bobcat guard going up for a three to keep the score where it was.
“You get caught up in the game and with all that adrenaline you just don’t want to lose,” Kahle said.
“We call her ‘monster.’ When I get her the ball I feel confident that she will score,” said Bostwick, who played a season-high 22 minutes and didn’t turn the ball over once.
Bostwick also had some late-game heroics after Kahle’s block. With 1:03 left Bostwick missed a free throw badly but was able to get her own rebound and run more time off the clock.
“I felt like it was a complete team effort. We came out strong on offense and made stops on defense,” said Kahle, who also had four assists to add to her impressive game.
The victory can be chalked up to holding onto the ball and forcing a lot of turnovers. The Bobcats were cursed in the first half with 17 turnovers because of Portland State’s swarming defense.
“We started out like gangbusters. I am proud of how we attacked. They kept making big plays and we’d come back and give them an answer,” head coach Charity Elliott said.
“We do some great things and we do some knucklehead things. And you have to give Montana State credit. They played great,” Elliot said.
Montana State’s comeback was lead by Nelson, who had 29 points, scoring 22 of them in the second period. She had a few big three-pointers that ebbed away at the Viks’ momentum at times.
Freshman shooting guard Jenni Ritter had a good game as well, with 15 points, six assists and four steals. Ritter found a little bit of daylight and was open a lot from three-point land but was only able to hit three of nine shots.
It was an excellent exhibition of team basketball. The Viks had 23 assists. The Bobcats were out-hustled by a much better conditioned Viking team. Although the comeback was almost disastrous, the Vikings earned the 2-3 Big Sky Conference record that they now hold.
The Viks are set to play Northern Arizona in Flagstaff this Thursday. If they can get a win they would knock off the best team in the Big Sky Conference and get some serious consideration for the championship in March. The women will return to the Stott Center on Sat., Feb. 11 to take on Eastern Washington.