Viks earn pair of weekend wins

On Thursday night, Portland State women’s basketball gave the Stott Center crowd the performance it has been waiting for, and then turned around and took that performance on the road.

On Thursday night, Portland State women’s basketball gave the Stott Center crowd the performance it has been waiting for, and then turned around and took that performance on the road.

PSU came back from an 18-point deficit to beat the EW Eagles, winning the first-ever Dam Cup by one point in the process. The Viks carried this momentum into Saturday and dominated Sac State 97-73.

Thursday’s game started at 7 p.m., but the Viks didn’t quite come out to play until about an hour later. The Vikings (11-9, 4-3 Big Sky) struggled in the first half to get any substantial run of points, and found themselves down by 18 with around four minutes to go until halftime. The flustered Vikings went into the locker room down by 12, but emerged after halftime ready to play and ready to win.

EW’s Brianne Ryan opened the second half with a shot and a good free throw, but those three points were the last the Eagles earned for almost four minutes. The Viks followed Ryan’s baskets with a three-pointer by junior guard Eryn Jones. Jones’ three jumpstarted the team for their 20-point run, which gave them the much-needed lead by five.

Head coach Sherri Murrell said that it was composure on offense that got the team back in the game. She also said that senior center Courtney Cremer and senior forward Kelli Valentine were some of the key contributors and leaders in the second-half comeback.

“We were trying to get all the points back that we were giving up on rebounds,” Murrell said. “We were frantic on shooting, so they just relaxed.”

From that 20-point run, the Viks never lost their lead, but a fouled jumper by the Eagles’ sophomore forward Carrie Ojeda brought the visiting team within just three. The Vikings’ pair of Courtneys—VanBrocklin and Cremer—finished it out for the home team.

Cremer and VanBrocklin claimed the rest of the baskets, rebounds, blocks and assists, and VanBrocklin sealed the Dam Cup victory with a free throw to win it 77-70.

Cremer said that in the second half, the team was much more aggressive, which meant baskets were falling instead of becoming turnovers.

Murrell said their biggest take-away was that they finally had momentum, and on Saturday night, they used it. The Viks soared past the Sac State Hornets, and unlike Thursday night, never had to struggle for a comeback since the Hornets never saw the lead.

Cremer said following Thursday’s game that the team wanted to win, and not only that, but play well on the road, and that is exactly what they did.

Sac State (3-18, 0-8 Big Sky) has been struggling this season to find a solid game plan. Prior to the loss to the Viks on Saturday, the Hornets fell by a heartbreaking two points to Idaho State on Thursday. Unfortunately for the Green and Gold, they were unable to take their momentum from Thursday to Saturday—and the Vikings did just that.

Senior forward Kelli Valentine led the Viks and, with 14 points and 11 rebounds, grabbed the only double-double of the night. Overall, the Viks shot an impressive 63.4 percent, with five players racking up point totals in the double digits.

The game started out in Viking favor, and with a minute left in the first half, Valentine got a steal and senior guard Lexi Bishop cashed in on it for a three-pointer. Her shot put the Viks ahead by 28, the most of the evening.

PSU carried this cushion of points into the second half. The team secured itself at least 20 points in front of the home team for the rest of the game. The Hornets had the last say on the scoreboard with a layup by freshman forward Shanti Smith, but with less than a minute left, those were the last points they would have time for. The Hornets left defeated 97-73.

Both nights, the points were led by VanBrocklin and Jones. VanBrocklin combined for 38 over the weekend, and Jones grabbed 18 in each game or 36 for the weekend.

Murrell said that the emerging leaders are great pillars for the team. With their consistant shooting, other players are able to rely on them and chip in shots of their own.

Valentine chipped in 24 over the weekend with eight assists and 11 rebounds on Saturday alone. Another star from the weekend was Cremer, a player that Murrell said prior to this weekend is someone that has really begun to prove herself as a leader.

Cremer had double-digit points both nights and combined for 24. The center also led defensively on Saturday night and pulled three blocks, the second time she has done so in conference play.

This pair of wins is big for the Vikings. The team has now moved up from their sixth place ranking to a four-way tie for third place in the BSC standings. The team has won three games in a row, and will be able to use the home court advantage to keep that run alive. The Viks are slated at the Stott Center for four of their upcoming five games.

Their next game will be against Sac State again this Thursday. The struggling Hornets hope to change their 12-game losing streak and gain a conference win. The game is scheduled for 7 p.m. at the Stott Center.  ?