Vikings come up short against Washington

Last season, the Portland State women’s basketball team defeated the University of Washington on a last-second buzzer-beater at the Stott Center.

Last season, the Portland State women’s basketball team defeated the University of Washington on a last-second buzzer-beater at the Stott Center. Nearly the same thing happened this year, but unfortunately, this time the game fell in the favor of the Huskies.

Portland State fell to Washington, 51-50 in a heartbreaking season-opener Sunday at UW’s Hec Edmundson Pavillion in Seattle, Wash. The Vikings begin the 2010–11 campaign with a 0-1 record.

Sunday’s game came down to the wire after Portland State spent most of the first half trailing. But in the final seconds of the game, the Vikings were unable to get off a good shot to beat the buzzer.

A game such as this is especially hard to deal with for a team, since there was a truly remarkable spark that put them back into a game that seemed to be going smoothly for Washington. The Vikings were held scoreless for the first eight minutes of the game as Washington ran up 14 points and seemed to be in a rhythm.

Early on, shots weren’t going in for the Vikings, who missed all nine of their attempts from the field during the opening stretch. After the slow start that looked worrisome for the Viks, sophomore guard Courtney VanBrocklin gave the team the much-needed spark to get back into the game.

VanBrocklin scored the Vikings’ first nine points and single-handedly created a 9-2 run to cut the Huskies lead to 16-9.

From that point, it looked like the Viks picked up momentum and confidence as other players stepped up to chip away at the lead. Guards Eryn Jones and Lexi Bishop went into overdrive before the half, not only cutting at the lead, but also taking it just before the end of the first half. After starting out flat, the Viks went into the locker room with a 27-25 lead over Washington.

The game remained in Portland State’s favor until the last 10 minutes of regulation, when they made just one field goal during the closing stretch. Unfortunately, this led to Washington’s Mollie Williams jump shot with 24 seconds left to give Washington the 51-50 advantage.

In the closing seconds of the game, Portland State was unable to pull off the buzzer-beater as they did in last year’s game, and were sent home with their first loss of the season.

New players stepped up for the Vikings Sunday, as VanBrocklin, a Boise State transfer, did. She ended the night with 11 points and five rebounds, with nine of those points coming in the first half.

Eryn Jones also had a good night for the Vikings, adding 14 points and five rebounds to lead all scorers for the team.

Washington did not have as many stats distributed throughout the roster and seemed to rely on a select few to do most of the scoring and rebounding. Two players scored 18 points on UW’s roster, with the next-highest scorer having four. Forward Mollie Williams, the Husky who made only one shot on the night, which unfortunately was the game-winner, ended the night with an impressive 13 rebounds.

It is always hard to have a loss such as this for the Viks, especially after coming back from a large deficit. Head coach Sherri Murrell knew that starting a game flat like they did is something that just shouldn’t happen.

“You obviously don’t want to start games like that,” Murrell said. “I know as a coach that if you stay positive with the kids and tell the shooters to keep shooting, then things will turn around. We emphasized defense with them after that rough start and we got some stops and then we started hitting shots.”

Slowing down Washington’s offense and creating a presence inside helped Portland State stay in the game. UW was only 7 of 23 on the night for their free-throw shooting and the Viks did their best to take advantage of that.

While conference play for the Viks does not start until Jan. 8, they now travel to UC Santa Barbara on Thursday for their next regular season match.

At the end of the day coach Murrell knows that moving onto the next game is what is truly important for the team’s success for the rest of the season. It is always hard to get over a game that was nearly won in the closing seconds, but this will likely not be a roadblock in the Viks goal of taking a first ever regular season Big Sky Conference title.

The only thing after that is for the Viks to continue to try and defend their conference title, and in the meantime, they are likely to come out of the gates hungry after coming so close to beating Washington.?