The Vikings need to win the next two games to stay ranked in the top six teams and gain a berth in the Big Sky tournament. The PSU Viking men have the opportunity to finish somewhere between second and eighth place in the Big Sky Conference.
The Vikings lost to Eastern Washington on Saturday, 65-60, as the Eagles extended their winning streak to eleven games. EWU has already taken the league, securing it last week.
Before their loss to the Eagles, the Viks were tied with Montana State for fourth place in the Big Sky Conference.
As of February 22, 2004, Eastern Washington is in first place with an 11-1 record, and Northern Arizona and Sacramento State are tied for second at 6-6. The next four teams, Montana State, Portland State, Idaho State and Weber State are tied for fourth, each with a 5-7 record in conference play. The bottom of the barrel holds Montana at 4-7. Only the top six teams will get the chance to play in the postseason.
Up next, the Vikings play Idaho State and Weber State. Both these teams are fighting PSU to stay in the top six, as they are all three currently tied in Big Sky play.
This Thursday, the Vikings will travel to Pocatello, Idaho to take on the Bengals. Here is how these tied teams match up. The Vikings remain the top rebounding team in the Big Sky, averaging 36.8 offensive rebounds and 31.6 defensive rebounds per game. Idaho is ranked last at only 29.8 offensive rebounds and 40.3 defensive rebounds per game.
Portland State and Idaho State are ranked second and third respectively, in blocked shots. Both teams average 3.58 per game. However, Idaho State is second in both assists (16.2) and steals (8.15) per game. Portland State is ranked on the lower end of both these statistics.
For games played January 15-17, Portland State’s Seamus Boxley and Idaho State’s Doug D’Amore were named Big Sky Co-Players of the Week. Each put up career-high games, Boxley with 15 rebounds against Northern Arizona and D’Amore with 28 points and nine rebounds against Montana State.
Thursday’s game has potential to be fairly matched in specific areas of play. Each team has a few key players that dominate in areas such as scoring and rebounding, and they have led the Big Sky throughout this season. Both Idaho State and Portland State should be expected to come onto the court ready to play tough ball as both teams will be fighting to get into the top six teams for post-season play.
Saturday’s loss to Eastern Washington wasn’t a total surprise. The Eagles were riled up on their ten-game win streak, and it was to be expected that they were looking for another win. Portland State led early in the game with a seven-point advantage in the first half, but the Eagles climbed back to the top, leaving the Vikings trailing 31-28.
Late in the second half, the Eagles were ahead by 11 at 55-44. The Vikings got a burst of energy and went on a 15-6 run over six minutes. That didn’t stop the Eagles from winning in the last minute after surviving both a foul and turnover with four straight free throws. The Vikings were out-rebounded for only the third time all year (26-24).
Brenden Merritt led the Eagles with 15 points, four assists, and three steals. Alvin Snow brought in 14 points, nine rebounds and three steals. Matt Nelson and Marc Axton both had ten points.
Seamus Boxley led the Vikings with 19 points, seven rebounds, and four assists. Blake Walker brought in 12 points three rebounds and three assists. Antone Jarrell had eleven points, three rebounds and three steals. Sheu Oduniyi added nine points and Will Funn had seven points and four assists.