The women’s basketball team rebounded from a blowout loss on Thursday to top Montana State 55-53 Saturday afternoon in front of a packed Stott Center. Finishing the four-game homestand with three wins to just one loss, which came against basketball superpower Montana, the Vikings now sit in fifth place in the Big Sky with an even 5-5 record in conference play, 9-14 overall.
The women’s basketball team rebounded from a blowout loss on Thursday to top Montana State 55-53 Saturday afternoon in front of a packed Stott Center.
Finishing the four-game homestand with three wins to just one loss, which came against basketball superpower Montana, the Vikings now sit in fifth place in the Big Sky with an even 5-5 record in conference play, 9-14 overall. With the loss, Montana State drops to 4-5 in conference play and now sits behind Portland State at sixth place in the standings.
Strong play off the bench, clutch free-throw shooting and several timely blocks won the game for the Vikings.
“We played hard, and we just dug this out,” said Portland State head coach Charity Elliott. “Sometimes it’s not going to be pretty, sometimes you’ve just got to find a way to win, and I felt like tonight that’s what we needed to do.”
Freshman center Janie Bos and junior guard Delaney Conway, neither of whom started the game, hit big shots down the stretch for the Vikings. Conway dropped 12 clutch points that helped erase a 10-point Montana State lead during the second half.
Bos, celebrating her 19th birthday on Saturday, led all players with 16 points and 10 rebounds, her third double-double performance of the season.
“I know what coach Elliott expects of me. I need to come out here and score some points, grab some boards. If I keep doing that, then I’m going to be in the games,” Bos said.
With sophomore guard Kelsey Kahle in foul trouble early, not even netting a field goal in the first half, the Portland State bench stepped up, scoring 33 points in the contest.
Montana State opened up a 10-point lead early in the second half after a 9-2 run. Not wanting to fall victim to consecutive home losses, the Vikings went to work, chipping away at the deficit. With nearly nine minutes left in the game, Kahle hit a free throw to tie the game up at 42-42.
Once tied, the game remained close throughout. Following a Montana State shot-clock violation, field goals by Conway and freshman forward Erin Yankus staked the Vikings to a six-point lead. With under two minutes to play, Montana State reclaimed the lead on a Rebecca Mercer three-point play, making it 53-52.
Freshman guard Claire Faucher hit two free throws to take the lead back with just over a minute remaining. Then on the next possession, PSU forced a shot-clock violation that would get them the ball back with a four-second difference between the shot and game clock. With 21 seconds left, a foul on Bos led to two free throw attempts-she would only complete one, making the score 55-53.
Hoping for another tie, Montana State’s Alyssa Nelson’s drive to the hoop would be denied on a big block from Bos. It was one of the Vikings’ three blocks in the last five minutes of the game, all of which prevented close-range field goal attempts. Faucher and sophomore guard Stephisha Walton were the other blockers, each recording vicious rejections that sent the Stott Center into a frenzy.
“We love the blocks, and lately it’s been a block party here at Portland State,” said Conway. “It’s been great. I think we get hyped about blocks more than anything else. It really gets our momentum going.”
The Vikings have been stellar at home this season, posting an 8-4 record at the Stott Center. Playing on the road, Portland State has not been so fortunate, winning only one road game so far this season. The Vikings will have a chance to improve that statistic starting next Saturday, as they open a four-game road trip beginning with Weber State.
“You always hope for four, but getting three at home here, that’s big. Now we get to be road warriors, and figure out how to win on the road,” coach Elliott said.