Thursday night’s critical game against conference-leading Weber State should have been a win, but in the end the Vikings just couldn’t find a way. They fell to the Wildcats 64-62 at home. You know your team has been away for a while when you notice their hair has grown visibly longer.
Running out of time
Thursday night’s critical game against conference-leading Weber State should have been a win, but in the end the Vikings just couldn’t find a way. They fell to the Wildcats 64-62 at home.
You know your team has been away for a while when you notice their hair has grown visibly longer. That was the case Thursday at the Stott Center as the Vikings played their first home game in 19 days.
But what happened at the Vikings homecoming was a whole lot worse than any bad hair day.
Down only a point, junior Ryan Sommer recovered a loose ball and was fouled in the process. He went to the line, needing to make just one shot to tie the game. Two would’ve given the Vikings a lead with 13.1 seconds remaining.
Sommer, a 76 percent free throw shooter on the season, stepped up to the line. A hush went over the crowd. Then he missed both shots.
“I felt very good about having Ryan at the line with two shots,” coach Bone said afterwards. “But once he missed his first, I wasn’t surprised he missed the second, because he has a tendency to really get down on himself.”
But at this point, the game wasn’t over yet. A quick foul gave the Vikings the ball back with 10 seconds left, down only two. Without a timeout Dupree Lucas raced up court but the top-ranked Wildcat defense held. Lucas missed a three-pointer at the buzzer.
Portland State failed to cash in on the opportunities afforded them late in the game; their loss cannot be pinned on only the final few plays.
After a solid first half, in which they outscored Weber State 35-28, the Vikings returned to the court flat and the Wildcats opened the second with a 17-4 run. With 12 minutes left in the game Portland State went over six minutes without a field goal.
“We came out in the second half without a lot of emotion, and without a lot of fight,” explained coach Bone, who had a difficult time understanding why the Vikings could not maintain their momentum. “Maybe we were content that we were seven points ahead.”
Senior guard Juma Kamara, who finished with a game-high 18 points, was also confused about what went wrong in the second. “I don’t know what happened in the first 10 minutes,” he said. “We were up seven (at the break) and we came out lethargic.”
The loss stung more, Kamara said, because the Vikings had “every chance” to succeed. Now Saturday’s road game against Eastern Washington takes on added importance.
Portland State is now tied with the Eagles in a race for the sixth and final Big Sky conference tournament spot. If they don’t get a win in Cheney the Vikings will all but be erased from the playoffs-a letdown the Vikings simply aren’t prepared for.
“Last year we battled and we got [to the playoffs] and lost,” Kamara said. “But this year it’ll be a total disappointment if we don’t get to that Big Sky tournament. It would be more disappointing than last year.”
To Kamara, the road in front of them is clear: “We’ve just got to win out.”