The Portland State men’s basketball team earned a measure of revenge against Weber State Thursday night, combining hot shooting and frenetic defense to notch a 73-59 win against the Wildcats. The Vikings (8-9, 1-3 Big Sky) lost to the Wildcats (6-13, 0-5 Big Sky) last March in a Big Sky tournament game at the Memorial Coliseum.
The win over the Wildcats gives first year Viking head coach Ken Bone his first Big Sky win and stops a three game losing streak. The Vikings were led by junior forward Juma Kamara’s 23 points on 9-12 shooting and showed an all around effort by the entire team.
Portland State asserted itself early with a 5-0 run sparked by a Jake Schroeder three-pointer and Juma Kamara’s putback. The Wildcats had no answer for Kamara and Schroeder, who combined for 38 points, including 9-15 shooting from beyond the three-point arc. Schroeder also had a team-high six assists to go along with his 15 points.
Weber State would lead only once, after a Terrell Stovall three-pointer put the Wildcats up 6-5. The Vikings took control after that point with a 20-9 run capped by Kamara’s three-pointer to make the score 28-16.
The Vikings would continue to pound the ball inside and get easy jump shots while harassing the slower Weber State team on defense. Senior forward Tyler Hollist had three blocks, including two against Coric Riggs, who led the Wildcats with 18 points and six rebounds. Hollist also blocked a dunk and finished with 5 points.
Starting point guard Ryan Sommer saw his first significant playing time since being injured three games ago at the start of the losing streak. He returned to play 29 minutes and was a calming force on the floor. Sommer finished with 6 points and four assists.
Senior Josh Neeley returned to his role as the first guard off the bench and continued to produce big numbers. Bone said Neeley played one of his best games of the season, disrupting the Wildcat offense while continuing to put up big numbers. Neeley scored 11 points and dished out five assists with no turnovers.
Junior center Anthony Washington put the exclamation mark on the game with a monstrous dunk in the final minutes that made the score 68-59, the Vikings’ largest lead of the contest. He was assessed a technical foul for slapping the backboard, but it hardly mattered. Washington finished with 6 points and three rebounds.
Coach Bone was pleased with his team’s effort in a must win game.
“I’m so proud of our guys. I thought we played a very solid game. We didn’t do anything cute,” Bone said. “We really needed to win this game badly. I feel badly for Weber State.”
Bone called PSU’s 19 assists “an accomplishment” and pointed to Sommer’s return to the starting lineup as a key factor.
“I thought it was important that Ryan was on the court,” Bone said. “Just his presence on the court calmed our guys down. He seems to be fine. If we get through Saturday with him being healthy we should be good.”
For the remnants of last year’s team that endured the heartbreaking 71-61 loss to Weber State in the Big Sky tourney, Thursday night helped ease the sour memories.
“Last year is last year, but for the guys who were here, there was a little bit of revenge [to this game],” Schroeder said. He went 3-10, including 0-5 from three in last year’s tournament game.
The Vikings must now capitalize on this win by serving hold at home Saturday night against Idaho State, something both Bone and Schroeder identified as imperative to making it back to the Big Sky tournament.
“Every game at home is a must win,” Schroeder said. “We have to steal a couple on the road and hold serve at home.”
A vocal senior leader, Schroeder said the team is hitting its stride at the right time.
“I think we’re coming together well as a team and as a coaching staff,” he said. “It’s only one win, but we really needed it.”