Portland State’s up-and-down 2006-07 season came to an end on Thursday, as the Vikings fell to the Weber State Wildcats 77-67 in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament. The loss set the final record for Portland State this season at 12-18.
Vikings leave tourney early
Portland State’s up-and-down 2006-07 season came to an end on Thursday, as the Vikings fell to the Weber State Wildcats 77-67 in the quarterfinals of the Big Sky Conference tournament.
The loss set the final record for Portland State this season at 12-18. Weber State went on to lose to Idaho State, the eventual tournament champions.
In their previous two matchups this season, the Vikings lost both games to the Wildcats by an average of 19 points. While this game managed to stay closer than the aforementioned statistic, the result was still the same.
Weber State seemed in control of the game by halftime, taking a 9-point lead into the break. Portland State erased the huge deficit by opening the second half with a 12-3 run. At this point, senior guard Chelsey Warburton went to work. Warburton, along with senior guard Laura Porter, propelled the Wildcats to 11 straight points, eventually opening up a 61-45 advantage with just under eight minutes left in the second half.
“The first, probably, 12 minutes of the game, I thought we really stuck to the game plan. We contested shots and it was a back-and-forth game,” Portland State head coach Charity Elliott said. “With about eight minutes to go, there was a stretch where we’d lose their player, and they are the type of shooters where if they’re open they’re going to hit it. They got a couple of good looks and I think that kind of sparked them.”
Weber State led by 22 points with nearly five minutes remaining in the game, and it looked liked a carbon copy blowout of the regular-season meetings between these teams. However, the Vikings responded with a quick 16-2 run to cut the deficit to 8 with just under two minutes left to play. The Wildcats would not let the lead shrink to more than 7 as they held on for the victory.
Once again, senior guard Chelsey Warburton tormented the Vikings. After combining for 50 points in two games against Portland State earlier this season, Warburton hit 4-of-11 on three-point attempts and grabbed seven rebounds on her way to a game-high 30 points. As a team, Weber State shot 40.3 percent from the field, compared to Portland State’s 37.7 percent.
Sophomore forward Kelsey Kahle’s 24 points paced the Vikings offensive effort. Freshman guard and Big Sky freshman of the year Claire Faucher balanced the attack with 15 points and a game-high eight assists. Sophomore guard Stephisha Walton added 14 points.
Despite the loss, a trip to the Big Sky tournament seems enough of an accomplishment for the youngest team in the conference, which started off conference play by going 0-3. The Viks’ biggest wins of the season came against solid teams like Southern Utah and UC Davis, both at the Stott Center early on.
After making their second consecutive trip to the conference tournament this year, return appearances seem likely considering the core of young talent the Vikings developed this year. In the next two seasons, the Vikings will retain Kahle, Walton, Faucher, three-point threat Jenni Ritter and now-freshmen centers Janie Bos and Erin Yankus, all of whom emerged as capable players this season. The only notable loss is the departure of guard Heather Arns after this season. The Vikings are a team on the rise and have a legitimate shot to be the ones cutting down the net in the near future of the Big Sky tournament.
“We had three freshmen just make tremendous strides this year. Claire [Faucher] getting freshman of the year in the conference. We’ve got Kelsey [Kahle], who’s solid. Delaney [Conway], Steph [Walton]…we’ve just got a really good group of core people coming back,” said Elliott.