Women’s basketball struggles on the road

After last week’s 86-68 victory over the Cal Poly Mustangs, the Vikings (2-2, 0-0 Big Sky) women’s basketball team dropped both games in the Arizona State Holiday Classic. The Vikings lost to host Arizona State, 72-53, Friday, and Oklahoma State, 68-51, Saturday.

The Vikings’ win over the Mustangs last Monday gave them their first 2-0 start since the 1995-96 season. The win came with contributions from Nikki Petticrew and Jane Gowans.

Senior guard Petticrew had her second consecutive 20-plus point efforts against the Mustangs, busting out 23 points at the Peter Stott Center. She also came through with a career-high seven assists against Cal Poly.

Portland State also had help off the bench. Junior guard Gowans came off the bench to score 16 points and five rebounds in her 20 minutes of play.

Sarah Hedgepeth was six of eight from the field, tacking up 15 points. The junior forward nailed both her three-point attempts and was one of one from the foul line.

The Vikings had eight different players score, with a team shooting percentage of 56.6 from the field.

With the little momentum of the two wins, the Vikings hoped they could spin some of it into Friday’s game against the Sun Devils. This appeared to be the best match-up of the Holiday Classic statistically – and it was for the first half, locked up at 30 a piece. Then in the second half, it was all Sun Devils.

The two-time defending Pac-10 champion Sun Devils shot 51 percent from the field in the second half to the Vikings’ 29 and outscored the Viks 42-23.

“We played good for the first 28, 29 minutes,” head coach George Wolfe said. “In the second half, they picked up their defense and we didn’t match their intensity.”

Both Niki Sadowski and Petticrew were in double digits, scoring 10 and 11 points for the Viks. The 5-foot-10 senior Sadowski also pulled down nine boards against Arizona State.

It probably wasn’t so good to blow out the first two opponents, Wolfe explained. When you play more talented teams, it’s much harder to break their will.

Will is one thing the Sun Devils didn’t let the Vikings break, shooting 17-33 to PSU’s 8-27.

“We can’t allow how we play on offense to affect how we play on defense,” the fourth-year head coach said. “We struggle, they struggle.”

Although Portland State struggled on the boards, pulling down 24, Arizona State pulled down a huge 47 rebounds. Fourteen of the Sun Devils’ boards came from forward Amy Denson, who also had 12 points for ASU.

The Vikings hung around in the second half, tying 42-42. But that was when the Sun Devils went on a 30-11 run to win 72-53.

Game two in the Holiday Classic put the Vikings in the consolation bracket against Big 12 school Oklahoma State. The win was the first for the Cowgirls after losing four straight. The Cowgirls jumped on the Vikings early, ahead 32-20 at the half.

The Viks couldn’t overcome the early deficit, losing 68-51. The Vikings committed a season-high 34 turnovers and shot only 33 percent from the floor.

Petticrew led the team in scoring for the fourth straight time, tacking up 12 and tying her career-high nine boards. Hedgepeth turned in her first double-double of the season, scoring 10 points and 10 rebounds.

“We were just hung over from the first game,” Wolfe said.

The team has a week to heal its wounds and learn from its mistakes before going into Saturday’s game against Oregon State University (3-1, 0-0 Pac-10). It can also take comfort in the fact that the PSU bench has shown solid performances.

“I learned of three people, Lena Grant, Jenny Poe and Kristin Boyd, who did a good job, played hard and picked up their play,” Wolfe said.

PSU has never beaten OSU but is looking forward to turning things around. The game is in Corvallis this Saturday at 7 p.m.