The Sacramento State Hornets used a 13-4 run over the final eight minutes to defeat the Vikings 68-65 Saturday at the Stott Center. Portland State lost its fifth-straight game and it’s third heartbreaker in a row.
The Viks led 61-55 with 8:03 to go but failed to score over the last four minutes of the contest. The loss sends the Vikings to 8-14 on the year, including 1-8 in the Big Sky Conference. It also wastes another impressive performance from junior forward Juma Kamara, who netted 15 points and nine boards in the loss.
Anthony Washington continued to show flashes of potential with 13 points and five rebounds in only 23 minutes of action. The junior center shot 5-9 from the field and also had three assists.
Senior guard Jake Schroeder struggled from the field, going 1-7 for three points on a lone shot from behind the arc. As a team the Vikings shot well in the second half at 48 percent, but they failed to score when it mattered most.
The Vikings now sit at the very bottom of the Big Sky and trail sixth-place Weber State by two games with only five games left, including the next three on the road at Eastern Washington, Idaho State and Weber State.
The Vikings must beat Weber State and Idaho State to have a chance to advance to the Big Sky tournament. Only six teams make the tourney, but if the Vikings can pick up some tough road wins they will stand a legitimate chance to make it. The only thing in their way, besides the brutal three-game road trip, is the two Montana schools that will visit the Stott Center during the last week of the season.
Is it time to give up hope? Not at all. Is it time to be worried? Yes. But remember, the Vikings aren’t playing with one of their best scorers, Paul Hafford, who broke his foot early in the season and won’t be back until next year. And they have a first-year coach in Ken Bone who hasn’t had a full year to recruit.
No season is a throwaway year, but with that said, the future certainly looks brighter than the present. Last year the Vikings won the Big Sky regular season. This year they’re fighting for a sliver of a chance. But it’s not time to give up yet. If they lose again, however, they’ll be playing for pride the rest of the way.