The Portland State Vikings are headed to the Big Sky women’s basketball tournament. With a 73-64 win over Northern Arizona on Thursday night, the Vikings secured a playoff berth. Portland State had strong performances from sophomore forward Kelsey Kahle and freshman guard Claire Faucher, but won the game on a dominating night of shooting from the field.
The Portland State Vikings are headed to the Big Sky women’s basketball tournament. With a 73-64 win over Northern Arizona on Thursday night, the Vikings secured a playoff berth.
Portland State had strong performances from sophomore forward Kelsey Kahle and freshman guard Claire Faucher, but won the game on a dominating night of shooting from the field. Kahle led all Vikings with 18 points and nine rebounds, while Faucher added 16 points of her own.
“I just try to give my team what they need on any given night. So whether that’s assists or points, I’m just trying to help out my team,” said Faucher.
Center Janie Bos continued her impressive freshman campaign, contributing 11 points off the bench. Sophomore forward Stephisha Walton added eight points, six of which coming during a Viking momentum shift early in the second half.
“Tonight was not easy. Northern Arizona is a very, very talented team and I thought we came out and played really solid. We played with a lot of energy, a lot of heart and a lot of smarts,” said Portland State head coach Charity Elliott. “I’m really proud of this team. They came out with a purpose and it’s amazing to see what we can do when we’re all ready to play.”
Five minutes after halftime, Portland State grabbed a six-point lead following Walton’s three consecutive baskets and a trey in the corner from Faucher. The Vikings held the lead, pushing it to as many as 13 points, before settling on a 73-65 final score.
“It feels good, especially over them, because we lost by one in overtime over at their place. Coming off Saturday’s game against Idaho State we were fired up,” said Faucher.
The Vikings hit 51.9 percent of their field goals on the night, continuing their recent trend of hot shooting. Portland State shot a combined 46.1 percent in their two previous games. If they can carry their sharp shooting into the tournament, the Vikings could be silent assassins in the upcoming tournament.
With the win, the Vikings are guaranteed at least the sixth seed heading into the tournament next weekend. If the women defeat Eastern Washington on Saturday and Montana State loses to top-ranked Weber State, then the Vikings will move into the fifth-seed spot in the tournament.
“We want to take care of business on Saturday against Northern Colorado, have a two-game streak going into the tournament. That’s the best we can hope for. We can still finish fifth,” said Elliott.
Saturday’s matinee against the Eagles is scheduled for a 2 p.m. tip-off at the Stott Center. It will be the last home game for senior guard Heather Arns, and oft-injured center Monica Uhrig. The game will also wrap- up the Vikings’ regular season schedule and serve as their final tune-up before the conference tournament begins on March 8.
“It’s our senior night, so we’re going to say bye to Heather and Monica. So emotion-wise it’s going to be kind of heavy, but we’re going to come out fired up and ready to play,” said Faucher.