Women’s basketball opens season with a win

The Viking women began their basketball season on a high note last Friday with a 71-60 victory over the Cal State Northridge Matadors.

The game, held at the Matadome in Northridge, Calif., marks the team’s first road win in an opening game since the 1997-98 season. The women also won their season-opener in Hawaii against Texas A&M last season, but it was a neutral site victory.

The Viking victory over the Matadors in front of the home crowd of 485 was due in no small part to the impressive play of senior guard Nikki Petticrew, who had 24 points on 9-of-21 shooting from the field. Aggressive play also led Petticrew to pick up the only technical foul in the game.

Before this season began, head coach George Wolfe named team veterans Sarah Hedgepeth and Michelle Thueson among the players he most anticipated would step up as team leaders. They didn’t disappoint on Friday night, with Thueson totaling 13 points and five assists and Hedgepeth adding 12 points and 7 rebounds. Sophomore guard Heidi Stuart also played well, chipping in with 14 points.

Freshman Jenna Washington made a promising debut for the Vikings. The 6-foot-1 forward came off the bench to score three points, grab five boards and commit a team-high three blocks in the 21 minutes she was in the game.

Matador point guard Kim Gildersleeve posted a team-high 15 points, while teammate Ofa Tulikihihifo had 13 on 6-for-12 shooting attempts.

Portland State held Northridge to just 10 field goals in the first half and its defense forced 26 Matador turnovers in the game. The Vikings were not able to grab as many rebounds as the home team, which edged them out 47-35.

The win was definitely a step in the right direction for the Vikings, which may become an even stronger team with the return of 6-foot-3 center Carrie Spencer, who sat out last year with an injury.

“She’s been getting some good physical therapy,” Wolfe said of Spencer. “She’s definitely a difference-maker, and next week I expect her to be going full-speed with us. She’s at about 70 percent now, but should be 100 percent by January.”

The Vikings played yesterday against Cal Poly, but results were not yet available by publication deadline.