Vikings slap Hornets to open Big Sky

The Vikings preempted Winter term with a pair of wins at the Stott Center last week, ending a five-game losing streak and opening the Big Sky Conference with a 76-68 victory over Sacramento State.

The Portland State Vikings ended the non-conference season on Tuesday with a seven-point victory over the California State Fullerton Titans before heading into Big Sky play on Saturday against the Hornets.

The star players during both these games from the Vikings lineup were Isaiah Pineiro, Donivine Stewart, Cameron Forte, Collin Spickerman, Bryce White and Calaen Robinson.

The Vikings kept better hold of the ball offensively during Tuesday’s game, recording 10 turnovers and improving on a 14.8 turnover average during the previous five games. They also made 30-57 shots on the court, 18-26 in just the second half. The Vikings used foul line shots to increase their second-half momentum against Cal State, shooting 17-23 free throws.

Pineiro and Stewart were pivotal during this game, putting forth what termed “the glue in one of the most efficient offensive performances of the season for the Vikings.” Pineiro scored 21 points and five rebounds overall, sinking one layup in the first half while taking a hit in back of the head from a defender.

The momentum from Tuesday’s game carried over to Saturday when the Vikings put pressure on Sacramento State, converting 16 forced turnovers into 21 points. PSU dominated the bulk of the first half with a 20-7 lead, but by halftime the Hornets caught up to trail by three, at 36-33.

Although the Hornets closed in during the second half, tying the game twice at 45-45 and 51-51, the Vikings prevailed with an offensive push in the end to rout an otherwise formidable defense. PSU walked away in the final five minutes with 25 to Sacramento State’s 17.

White took the lead in the final charge, scoring 10 of the Vikings’ 25 points, including six free throws. That last-minute tally brought White to 19 for the game, one shy of his career high of 20 against Pacific Lutheran in November.

The next game will have the Vikings face off against the Montana Grizzlies in Missoula, Mont. Thursday at 6pm.