The Portland State Vikings ended a four game losing streak Thursday night with a 74–69 win over the Idaho State Bengals. The Vikings win advanced PSU to 12–10 overall, 5–6 Big Sky. At home the Vikings improved their record 8–2.
The Bengals scored first, but were answered right back by Vikings player Deontae North with a 3-point shot. Both teams battled back and forth as the lead changed hands several times. At 11:14 the game was tied at 16 points each; ISU would then start to pull away from the Vikings.
While the Vikings kept the game within a 3-point lead at first, three turnovers and missed shots let the Bengals go on a run to a 30–22 lead, giving them their biggest lead of the first half at eight points.
PSU would end the run with a jump shot from Vikings player De’Sean Parsons with 4:51 left in the first half. A steal by Zach Gengler led to a fast-break dunk for Traylin Farris, to cut the lead to four. The Vikings continued to keep the game close with great defense and rebounding to keep the game within striking distance.
As the Bengals took a six-point lead with only 31 seconds left, PSU took a timeout to draw out their final play of the first half. When the Vikings got back on the floor, they let the seconds tick off the clock. Vikings player Calaen Robinson hit a three with one second to go in the first half, bringing the crowd to its feet and cutting the lead to three. At the opening of the second half, ISU was on top 36–33.
The opening minutes of the third quarter witnessed the Vikings’ failed attempt to close the Bengals’ lead to within four points. The Vikings came close within 4–5 points, but the Bengals answered right back to extend their lead multiple times. While PSU struggled to find offense, ISU continued to add to its lead. The Bengals went on another big run capped off by a 3-pointer to extend their biggest lead of the game to 10, 54–44.
A Vikings turnaround began to emerge soon after the Bengals lead. “We went to our press, created a couple of turnovers,” said PSU Basketball head coach Tyler Geving. “[Vikings] got a little more energy and picked up the pace from there.”
Gengler started the run with a steal that put points on the board with a Parsons layup off of a fast break.
The Vikings then went on a 12–1 run which saw them take a 56–55 lead with 4:13 left in the game. A pair of free throws from ISU gave them back the lead 57–56. Vikings player Bryce Canda would give PSU back the lead with a jumper; Gengler added a 3-point shot while a layup from Parsons pushed PSU’s lead to six with 1:51 left in the game.
PSU couldn’t push the lead over six as the Bengals continued to try to claw back into the game. With 10 seconds left on the clock, ISU had cut the lead to one point thanks to back-to-back threes. Vikings players Canda and Robinson would be perfect at the line to seal the game for the Vikings with a final score of 74–69.
Gengler led the team with 14 points and eight steals, despite fouling out in the final few minutes of the game. Deontae North also added 14 points to the Vikings’ home win.
“He’s [North] the most constant scorer,” Geving said in regard to North’s successful play. “When you know you’re going to get double figures every night—that’s a good thing.”
Parsons added 12 points to the Vikings’ win, while Canda was PSU’s energy player off the bench with 12 points.
The team allowed 44 points in the paint, a concern that coach Geving said needs improvement as the Vikings go up against Weber State University at 7:05 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 18.