Vikings pull through in the clutch

With a mere 5.7 seconds left, junior guard Jeremiah Dominguez calmly stepped to the free-throw line.

With a mere 5.7 seconds left, junior guard Jeremiah Dominguez calmly stepped to the free-throw line.

Despite the pressure-packed situation with the game being televised, the game on the line and 1,272 fans patiently awaiting his attempts, Dominguez pulled through in the clutch, knocking down two huge free throws and giving the Vikings (12-8, 5-2 BSC) a 70-68 victory over Montana.

“I got to the gym two hours early and shot before the game,” Dominguez said. “That really helped me out, and I was confident in my shot.”

Dominguez poured in 19 of his game-high 26 points in the second half and was perfect at the foul line, hitting all eight of his attempts.

Portland State started the game fast, jumping out to a 17-2 lead at the 13:47 mark of the first half. With their starters unable to get on track, the Grizzlies turned to their bench.

Enter senior guard Matt Martin. Martin went on a tear hitting all four of his field-goal attempts, including three shots from beyond the arc and all four of his attempts from the foul line. Martin’s 15 points, four above his season average, fueled a 28-10, eight-minute Grizzlies run that erased the Vikings’ hot start and gave Montana a 37-34 halftime lead.

The Vikings came out after the break and displayed the same energy and intensity they had to start the game. Answering Montana’s long run to end the first half, the Vikings put together an 18-2 run and led 63-51with 9:01 remaining.

But the Grizzlies would not go away quietly, and stormed back with a barrage of three pointers and three-point plays to tie the game at 68-68 with 2:10 left. Portland State head coach Ken Bone kept the Vikings poised throughout Montana’s comeback bid.

“We talked about the amount of time in the game,” Bone said. “We’re up a couple, they’re up a couple, but there’s still a lot of time. So let’s just keep our composure and we’ll be okay.”

Senior guard Deonte Huff not only kept his composure, but he also left his feet, repeatedly diving to the floor for loose balls to gain extra possessions and giving the crowd a treat with an array of high-flying dunks. Huff finished with 18 points and six rebounds, but his energy and hustle, not the points and rebounds, were what put the Vikings over the top.

“All the loose balls and hustle points; whoever gets the most is going to win,” Huff said. “If there’s a loose ball, I’m going to dive for it whenever there’s an opportunity to get an extra possession.”