The men’s basketball team finished its longest road trip of the season on Saturday. Unfortunately, it finished the road trip with two tough losses.
On Thursday, the Vikings took on Weber State in Ogden, Utah. Weber, currently tied for first place in the Big Sky Conference, held an undefeated all-time record against the Vikings in Ogden, and were able to extend the streak to nine wins with another victory, 77-64.
Then on Saturday, Portland State fought until the final seconds only to come up just short against Idaho State, 58-57.
Against Weber State, it was the Vikings who controlled the tempo and the lead in the first half. Jeb Ivey scored 17 points in the first half alone to lead the charge. It was a hot first half of shooting for both teams, but especially the Vikings from beyond the arc. Portland State shot 56.5 percent from the field on 13-23 and 6-7 three-pointers. The Wildcats shot 56.5 percent as well, on 13-23 from the field. Both teams battled back and forth offensively as Portland State ended up with the lead by halftime, 41-39.
In the second half, the Vikings came out with the same hot shooting and intensity. The Vikings increased their lead to five points twice in the second half, but were trailed each time by the unyielding Wildcats. At around the 14-minute mark, Ivey hit a three to put Portland State up 56-52.
After that, it was the Wildcats who turned up the pressure on both ends of the floor, showing the home crowd why they remain undefeated in conference play. The Wildcats finished the game with a 25-8 scoring run, leaving the Vikings behind. The Wildcats bettered their record to 15-5, 5-0.
Ivey led all scorers with a career-high 31 points on 10-16 from the field, including 7-9 three’s. Seth Scott scored 16 points to back Ivey but was held to just 21 minutes of playing time because of foul trouble.
“I thought our effort was as good as any game. We got hit with a few tough calls in the second half. I don’t want to blame the refs, but they hit us with some tough calls. They (Weber) hit their free throws down the stretch,” Ivey said.
On Saturday, Portland State traveled to Pocatello, Idaho, to battle the third-place Bengal’s of the Big Sky. The Vikings shot poorly in the first half, finding themselves trailing the Bengal’s early in the first half. At halftime, Portland State trailed 31-22, shooting only 8-23 from the field. Idaho State got it going early, shooting 14-27 in the first half.
In the second, it looked as if the Bengal’s might blow out the visiting Vikings. A nine-point halftime lead was turned into 15 points with around 14 minutes remaining in regulation.
Then Ivey took over for the Viks down the final stretch of the second half. He scored 13 points after the Bengal’s increased their lead to as many as 15 to mount a 27-13 charge to close the margin. With less than a minute left, Ivey continued his stellar play, putting in a clutch three to tie the game at 57-57. Marquis Poole was able to draw a foul on the next possession and sink one of two free throws to give the Bengal’s the victory by one point.
“We came out flat and got down early. We fought like dogs and came back. If we played the whole game like we did in the second half, we would have won,” Ivey said.
The Vikings had three players in double figures, with Ivey scoring 21, 15 in the second half. Seth Scott added 14 points and six rebounds, while Kevin Briggs scored 12 points and grabbed six boards as well. The Vikings’ record stands at 4-16, 2-4 in Big Sky play.
Next up for Portland State are two homes games. First Montana visits the Peter Stott Center on Thursday, then Montana State on Saturday. Both games are set for 7:05 p.m. tip-offs.