Vikings Begin Conference Play 2-1

Portland State’s women’s basketball team has plenty of talent, but can this year’s team make the Big Sky tournament?
After last season being derailed by injuries and two straight years of missing the Big Sky tournament, the PSU women’s basketball team hopes to bounce back in the 2013-2014 season. With a combination of two productive players returning from season-ending knee injuries (versatile guard Kate Lanz and 6-foot-1-inch double-double machine Angela Misa), eight experienced letter-winners from last year and several promising additions, it looked like this year’s campaign would be a success.
But after two exhibition wins, the Lady Vikings stumbled in their non-conference schedule, losing three of their first five games. The two wins came against Corban University and Columbia. Three high-profile road games followed against stiff competition, No. 24-ranked Gonzaga, University of Oregon and Georgia Tech. It’s hard to give PSU much of a chance on those teams’ home courts, and none of the games were pretty to watch for Viking fans. All three games were lost by an average of 45 points.
In the final non-conference game, PSU’s rival from atop Waud’s Bluff in north Portland came to the Peter W. Stott Center. The University of Portland Pilots clashed with the Portland State Vikings in a duel of back-and-forth runs. PSU scored 8-0 to start the second half, and the two Portland teams battled back forth before the Pilots came through with the final effort, ending the game on a 20-0 rout.
The Vikings headed into Christmas break and Big Sky play with a 2-7 record.
On Dec. 29, Big Sky conference games began with a Dam Cup matchup against the Eastern Washington Eagles. It was the best offensive performance for the Vikings this season. They scored a season-high 86 points while shooting a season-high .500(32-64) field goal percentage. Lanz led the way with her first career triple-double, racking up 22 points, 11 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists. It was the fifth recorded triple-double in PSU women’s basketball history. The Vikings defeated Eastern Washington 86-74 for their third win of the year.
In the first conference home game this season PSU hosted Idaho State, considered one of the better teams in the Big Sky. The Vikings interior defense couldn’t contain the Bengals, who went up by 18 at the half. PSU battled back to get within five points late in the game, but couldn’t convert offensively when it counted. Idaho State took the game with a final of 76-64.
Two days later Weber State came to town. Angela Misa had one of her best games of the season scoring 16 points and cleaning the glass for 16 boards. It was Misa’s 5th double double of the season, 13th overall playing for the Vikings. Behind Misa and the usual strong performance by Lanz(14 points, 5 rebounds, 7 assists) the Vikings prevailed 66-60.
Lanz, a Vancouver, Wash., native, leads the Vikings in scoring with 13.9 ppg. She also grabs 5.8 boards per game and leads the team in assists. Other key contributors are Allie Brock (12.1 ppg, 5.4 rpg), a long armed-long ranged shooter(like a better looking Dirk Nowitzki) Emily Easom (9.8 ppg), who provides heady defense and always outworks her opponent, and Angela Misa(10.5 ppg) who leads the team with 8.6 rebounds per game.
Several new members of the squad this year have made their presence known. Junior transfer Ani Avanessian joined the Vikings after dominating Western State Conference South competition for Los Angeles Valley College. In her two years playing for the Lady Monarchs, Avanessian averaged 16.7 points and 8.7 rebounds. This year she’s played every game so far, averaging 3 points and 2 rebounds coming off the bench. Avanessian started her first game for PSU against Weber State. A pair of freshmen Oregonian point guards also joined the team: Delanie Parry from Westview High School, and Yaremi Mejia from South Medford. So far Parry has played more and shown her ability as an offensive threat and deft ball handler. While Lauren Holt, who has recently seen more playing time, and Jackie Lanz—Katie Lanz’s younger sister—round out this year’s additions.
A familiar face for volleyball fans joined the team mid-way through the season. Senior Cara Olden, who played basketball in high school, worked out for the coaching staff over the summer and impressed them. So far she has seen limited minutes in two games.
This week the Vikings head to Montana to play the two Big Sky schools there.