After losing on Thursday to the University of North Dakota, the Vikings had to win their final three games to stay alive in the race for one of the seven playoff spots in the Big Sky Conference. But a second-half run by the
University of Northern Colorado on Saturday effectively ended those aspirations, as the Bears claimed an 85-75 victory on
Senior Day at the Stott Center.
Portland State’s seniors—guards Michael Harthun and Lateef McMullan and forwards Michael Harvey, Martin
Whitmore and Renado Parker—were honored for their contributions to Vikings basketball in a pregame ceremony. Head coach Tyler Geving rewarded the quintet by naming them the starting five in their final game in the Park Blocks.
PSU came out hot against the Bears, as Harthun paced the offense with 14 first-half points. Midway through the half, Dre Winston Jr. hit a 3-pointer to cap a 14-5 run over the previous four minutes and give the Vikings their largest advantage of the game at 21-13. But the Bears slowly chiseled away at the lead, capitalizing on a two-minute stretch without Harthun on the floor to eliminate the gap and take a 44-41 lead into the locker room.
The teams traded the lead back and forth throughout the first eight minutes of the second half. Harthun cooled off after halftime, going 2-for-6 to finish with 18 points. Junior Aaron Moore picked up the slack, scoring a team-high 20 points in 31 minutes, but Harthun’s dip in production proved costly as the Bears finally grabbed a lead they would not relinquish.
Northern Colorado guard Tate Unruh let a slight smirk slip as his 3-point attempt banked off the backboard and through the hoop to give the Bears a 57-56 lead with 12:10 left. The basket sparked a 24-8 run by the Bears over the next seven minutes that extended the visitors’ lead to 17 with less than four minutes remaining.
“That was a big basket,” head coach Tyler Geving said of Unruh’s shot after the game. “I thought we played pretty well up until that point. I don’t think he was calling glass on it, but it went in, and it was obviously a big play for them.”
As they had so many times already this season, the Vikings caught fire in the final few minutes of the half, going on an 11-4 run to close out the game, but by that point the Bears had already put the contest out of reach. The loss sent Portland State to 8-18 on the season. Though they finished 9-6 at the Stott Center this season, the Vikings are just 5-13 in Big Sky play with two road games remaining and have no chance of reaching the conference tournament. They’ll close out the season on the road this weekend, with their last two games coming against Weber State University on Thursday and Idaho State University on Saturday.
“We still need to come out and practice and do the right things,” Geving said. “Everybody has to look in the mirror and make adjustments.”