Women’s basketball

For the past four years the Portland State women’s basketball team has been undersized, undermanned and until recently under-skilled.

Last year the Vikings finished at the bottom of the Big Sky Conference, with an abysmal record of 3-24. There was little expectation for a team that was starting two true freshmen and coming off one of the worst seasons in Portland State women’s basketball history. With an excellent coach, hardworking players and a desire to win, the women would not have another bad season.

Led by freshman forward Kelsey Kahle and sophomore center Brianna Thompson, the Vikings went on a tear. They had a solid season resulting in a 12-16 record and the first Big Sky tourney berth in three years. Kahle won the Co-Freshman of the Year after averaging 17.3 points per game and 8.3 rebounds per game. She had seven double-doubles and 20 points or more in eight games.

Thompson finished the year averaging 14.6 points a game and 7.3 rebounds a game. Freshman shooting guard Jenni Ritter led the Big Sky in steals with 2.33 a game and was a dangerous threat behind the three-point arc. Junior Heather Arns did not have as productive a season as expected. She turned her shooting into assists and led the team with 85 on the year.

The Vikings had many fantastic games, including Kahle’s coming-out party against SEC powerhouse Arkansas. Kahle had her first career double-double against the Lady Razorbacks, recording 24 points and 15 rebounds. The Viks held off the Razorbacks for a 67-65 victory at the Stott Center and their fourth victory in five games.

The Vikings did struggle at times, including a five-game losing streak in the middle of the season that included losses to Gonzaga and three conference losses. The team would eventually recover to make the Big Sky Tournament.

The leading factor in the team’s success comes from head coach Charity Elliott and her talented staff. Without Elliott’s leadership the Vikings would have continued to struggle as they have for the last few years.

Elliott instilled a good work ethic and a hard conditioning routine to get the undersized team into shape for the coming year. Her no-nonsense attitude has led to a more focused and better basketball team. In her second season as the women’s head coach Elliott has rebuilt the team to her liking and transformed into a potential powerhouse for years to come.

The future will show whether this team has what it takes to get Portland State a Big Sky title. But with Elliott’s coaching prowess and some very talented young players, that’s much more likely.