The Vikings finish with a solid victory

After a long season the Portland State women’s basketball team (4-24, 3-13 Big Sky) finally wrapped up their season on the road.

While many would have hoped to make it to the Big Sky Championships this year, some said despite a few losses, it was a fairly solid season.

Seniors Hiedi Hatcher and Alicia Russell made their last game a memorable one. Both of them combined for 30 points to help the Vikings win their game over Cal State Northridge on Saturday, March 3 in front of 353 at The Matadome.

“They both ended their season with big games,” said head coach George Wolfe. “The last time we played we were down by one and Alicia came down the wing and missed a shot. She was extremely disappointed,” Wolfe said. “With 36 seconds to go we were only up by two, she (Alicia) drives in and makes a lay up, that put us up by four.”

Hatcher recorded a double-double in her final game, scoring a game-high 16 points while grabbing a career-high 13 rebounds. Russell also had a solid performance, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds for the Vikings. Their performances, along with other key ones, helped the Vikings clinch a 54-52 over the Matadors.”It was an excellent display of courage on our players’ part,” Wolfe said of the victory.

“Everything that happened with the team in terms of illness and injury was tough. We went into the last four games thinking we had nine players, but Shannon Thorne was stricken with mononucleosis. That left us with eight when we played against Idaho State,” Wolfe said.

PSU was trailing for most of the first half and were even behind by seven points with 7:20 remaining. But the Vikings fought back and scored eight points, with six of them coming from Hatcher, and took their first lead of the night. The Vikings capitalized off of that lead and sent the Matadors into the locker room trailing 29-25.

PSU was able to keep their momentum going in the second half, but Cal State managed to make a 12-0 run that gave the Matadors a 45-39 lead. Russell answered back by nailing a three-pointer that started a Viking 10-0 run.

CSN’s Myesha Saleem made a late rally by laying up a basket to cut the Vikings’ lead to 53-51 with less than 20 seconds to go. However, Sha’Tasha Allen missed her second shot attempt and Hatcher was fouled with the Matadors trailing 53-52. When Hatcher went to the line, she was able to make the first free throw but missed the second.

With seconds winding down in regulation, CSN’s LaShawnda Fowler tried to bury a three-pointer but her shot was way off, and the PSU victory was in the bank.All five starters had solid performances for the night. Nikki Petticrew had nine points, four rebounds, three assists and five steals. Krishelle Jessee played the entire game and dished out eight assists along with four points and four rebounds. True freshman Sarah Hedgepeth ended her season by delivering eight points.

The Matadors were led by Salem with 13 points and nine rebounds. Fowler and ReShawnda Richardson each had nine points and Kristi Rose had eight points and nine rebounds. Monica Hernandez had two points, six assists and two steals for the night.

On Thursday, March 1, the Vikings traveled to Flagstaff to face Northern Arizona University. But the Lumberjacks were too much for the Vikings and defeating them 68-48 while improving to a 6-0 all-time against PSU in Flagstaff.

NAU (12-6, 9-6 Big Sky) started to pick up their momentum in the second half because of their solid offense. However, in the first 20 minutes the Lumberjacks shot 24 percent and suffered eight turnovers.

The Lumberjacks still managed to take a 23-13 halftime lead by forcing 12 turnovers even as they shot 19 percent from the field.

When asked if Wolfe thought his team had a chance of winning he said, “I always feel like that. We held them to 23 percent shooting in the first half, where we were getting hurt was during the transition. We just got winded so quickly. What it is more than anything is that the air’s so dry up there that it becomes a distraction. That dry air is burning in your lungs and that’s something that you’re thinking about. Both teams did not shoot well overall but once again their throwing the kitchen sink at us.”

When the second half rolled around, NAU began hitting all sorts of shots from the field, as well from behind the three-point line. In fact, the Jacks managed to shoot 57 percent from behind the arc while the Vikings improved their field goal shooting to 38.7 percent on the half.

“We weren’t able to get back quick,” Wolfe said. “I think we’re in shape but we don’t have the numbers. We scored 35 points in the second.”

The Vikings’ Jill Fellar stepped up her game and led the Vikings with 10 points and eight rebounds.

“She had a great game,” Wolfe said. “We only had two returning players out there during these last two games. You can’t trade for experience. And that’s one thing we lacked all year is not enough experienced players on the floor.”

Jane Gowans was able to deliver nine points, six rebounds and two steals. Hatcher, Petticrew and Russell combined to score 17 points on 7-27 shooting.

NAU was led by Lynsi Blau with 13 points and sophomore Joy Dixon, an Oregon native, tied her career-high of 12 points. Lacey Tolbert and Kristi Harkey followed with 12 points each.

The last time the Vikings beat NAU was on Jan. 20 when the Vikings had three players in double figures, led by 17 points from Gowans. Jessee and Petticrew also scored 12 points each that night and all of them combined to shoot 50 percent from the field.

“We feel we’re gonna need an experienced junior college post and small forward,” Wolfe said about next year’s team. “We were hurt this year by not having Kate Lillebo and Jade White play. That certainly hurt our rebounding. I feel real comfortable with Sarah Hedgepeth, Carrie Spencer, Jill Fellar and Staci Kleier. But it’s still not enough.”