Vikings fall to Montana Griz in second Big Sky loss

The Montana Grizzlies took a late-game bite out of the Vikings during women’s Big Sky basketball play last Thursday, halting a first quarter charge to hand Portland State its second consecutive conference loss.

The Vikings (2-10) faced off against the Lady Grizzlies (9-4) at the Portland State Stott Center on January 7, 2016 at 7p.m. With a loss to Sacramento State by the final score of 91-132, the Vikings were looking to bounce back against a red-hot Griz fresh off of a four-game winning streak.

The first quarter was a defensive battle, as both offenses struggled to put points on the board. The Vikings kept pace with the Grizzlies through the first quarter, trailing close at 12-13.

“The first quarter I thought we did a great job matching their intensity,” Vikings head coach Lynn Kennedy said.

Things started to pick up in the second quarter as the pace of the game increased. Both teams came back energized, taking the game speed up a notch. However, the Grizzlies brought more intensity to the table and began to pull further away from the Vikings, jumping to a 15-point lead going into halftime with the score of 21-36.

The Vikings needed a spark to enter the second half if they were going to have any success against the Griz. They gained momentum by switching their defensive style to full-court press.

“We had to pick up our intensity,” Kennedy said. “With a young team sometimes you just got to do things like that.”

The Vikings’ full-court press defense stunned the Grizzlies early in the third quarter, but Montana would later answer with aggressive defense of their own while pinching away on the offense.

The momentum that the Grizzlies gained in the third quarter would transition into the fourth quarter where they were able to close in on the victory with the final score of 58-79. Montana forward Kayleigh Valley led all scorers with 29 points (11/17 FG), six rebounds and two blocks. Montana guard McCalle Feller also had a productive night, finishing with 25 points (8/17 FG, 3/7 3pt FG), four rebounds and six assists.

Vikings forward Pia Jurhar led the team in scoring with 17 points (5/9 FG), six rebounds and four blocks. Guard Ashley Torres came off the bench with 11 points (2/6 FG), two rebounds and two steals.

The Grizzlies jumped to a record of 10-4 with a five-game winning-streak; the Vikings suffered their second consecutive loss, falling to a record of 2-11.