Vikings derailed 66-68 at home

With a heartbreaking 68-66 loss to the Idaho State Bengals Saturday night, the Vikings’ season now hangs precariously on the edge of disaster. Senior guard Josh Neeley turned the ball over near his own bench and Anthony Washington barely missed a chance to block David Schroeder’s lay up with 3.8 seconds left in the game to seal the upset. The bucket put the Bengals (8-9, 1-5 Big Sky) up by two and a last ditch effort by Neeley fell short at the horn.

“We didn’t have any timeouts,” Neeley said. “I was just trying to create.”

The Vikings (8-10, 1-4) led much of the game despite shooting just 33 percent from the floor. They dominated the offensive glass but it wasn’t enough to overcome the poor shooting.

The Vikings trailed in the game late and required two key three-pointers to even have a chance to win. Senior guard Jake Schroeder hit a three with 2:58 remaining to tie the game at 61. Down again by one at 64-63 with under a minute to play, true freshman Tyrell Mara nailed a three off of Schroeder’s assist to give the Vikings a two-point lead.

After Bengals forward Tim Henry tied the game for the 15th time at 66 all, the Vikings went to work with a full shot clock. Portland State tried to run a high post play but crowd noise took its toll and the play broke down. Neeley bobbled the ball as he started to make his move with the clock ticking down.

It was David Schroeder, whose hot shooting had gotten the Bengals back into the game in the second half, who came up with the ball and raced down the court, just beating a streaking Anthony Washington for the final points of the game.

“We killed them on every stat and we only had 10 turnovers,” said Jake Schroeder, who is not related to David. “Its just tough to take. It’s to the point now where every home game we have to have.”

Vikings head coach Ken Bone wasn’t disappointed with his team’s effort Saturday, but he realizes the pressure this loss brings to the team.

“It’s a tough way to lose,” Bone said. “There’s only one place to go. Get on the practice court Monday and try and get better. Go on the road and try and win a game. That’s the only thing I think we can do.”

What the Vikings need to work on most is consistency on offense. Despite losing, the Viks held the Bengals to under 70 points and forced them to shoot only 42 percent. When consistency returns to the offense, a defensive effort like the one the Vikings gave Saturday will be sufficient for a win.

Both Jake Schroeder and junior center Anthony Washington had strong efforts Saturday. It is especially key for the Vikings to get Washington rolling offensively. The beefy 6-foot-9 center played aggressively against the Bengals, scoring early and often on his way to 15 points and eight boards in only 21 minutes.

Schroeder continues to be the pressure release for the Vikings, stepping up and hitting big shots when they’re needed. Leading the team with slightly more than 12 points a game, Schroeder will have plenty of opportunities to shoot the ball in the next month.

Perhaps the real key to the next few games will be how sophomore point guard Ryan Sommer continues to recover from the hamstring injury that sidelined him for three games earlier this year. Sommer is a calming force on the floor and the Vikings need him to do what he does best – score and create opportunities for others with his quickness and ability to handle ball pressure. A telling stat: Sommer had only one assist in Saturday’s loss. He had four against Weber State in the Vikings 73-59 win last Thursday.