As prominent veterans miss games, some of the younger players on the Portland State women’s basketball team have emerged. It may be time to look toward the future.
After losing to the Southern Utah Thunderbirds Thursday the team fell to 3–5 in the Big Sky Conference, which is good for ninth place out of 11, and 5–12 overall.
The coaching staff will continue to try and win; it’s their job, and you never know what could happen in a smaller conference like the Big Sky.
“It’s conference season. Every game is a different challenge. With our schedule and our conference, there’s no game that’s going to be an easy one,” said second-year assistant coach Brad Strickland. “The magic number, at least for last year, was seven wins.”
The team’s Montana road trip was rough; the Lady Vikings lost a pair of games, as well as emotional leader, senior big Angela Misa, to a season-ending knee injury. This is the second straight year Misa’s season has been cut short. She finished her season with three straight double-doubles and averages of 11 points, 9 rebounds, and shooting almost 50 percent.
In a two game homestand against Sacramento State and Northern Arizona, senior guard Kate Lanz was benched for violation of team rules. Senior forward Keaton McFadden was also benched for one game. Lanz later returned to action against Southern Utah; she did not start but played down the stretch, logging 30 minutes and scoring 14 points.
Into the gulf came sophomore guard Emily Esom and freshmen Delanie Parry and Lauren Holt, who both started their first collegiate game in PSU’s win over the Sacramento State Hornets.
The pair of first year players had career nights: Holt scored 18 and pulled down 8 boards, while for Parry it was all about lucky number seven. She had that many points, assists and rebounds (the latter two career highs), in addition to only two turnovers as the primary ballhandler. She surprised many by also notching three blocks, and tying Misa for the season high. Parry, at 5’6’’, is the shortest player on the Vikings squad.
Parry’s contributions were expected by some. “Delanie Parry is not a surprise. We thought she was going to come in and play right away and that’s what she’s doing,” said Strickland.
In these recent games Esom has emerged as the Lady Vikings go-to offensive player. While only a sophomore, Esom logged serious minutes as a true freshman when she played 26 games, starting in 10. In her first year she was third on the team in three pointers with 24 and averaged 5.4 points per game.
Sporting her signature headband and playing with her signature hustle, Esom has averaged 17.2 points in the last five games, racking up 13 of her team-leading 30 three-pointers.
Finding outside offense is an area the Vikings struggled with early in the season. “We’ve got to be able to make shots, especially from the perimeter,” said Strickland.
Lanz is certainly capable of creating her own shot, forward Allie Brock is an accurate spot-up shooter and now with Esom showing her adroit ability, this team should be able to score against anyone.
The defensive side of the game remains the question. With Misa out, the porous interior defense of PSU will only get worse. Their strengths appear to be guard play and timely three-point shooting.
If all the young weapons this team possesses can get the minutes and touches they have earned, and the seniors can lead as their experience would suggest, the PSU women’s basketball team may just get to that magic number of seven conference wins.