This week the Vikings could prove themselves a force to be reckoned with in the Big Sky Conference, with home games against Weber State tonight and Idaho State on Saturday.
Weber State has had an excellent season, with an overall record of 11-6 and a BSC record of 3-1. Last year, the Vikings went 1-1 against the 2001-02 BSC Champion Wildcats, defeating them 68-65 in the most recent showdown between the teams, Jan. 26 2002.
The Vikings and Wildcats both struggled with their turnover percentages in that last game, but Portland State was able to go 48 percent from the field on that night – one of their best totals of the season.
Wildcat forward Crystal Howe led her team that night with 23 points and eight rebounds, while guard Julie Gjertsen had 12 points. Both players have continued to lead their team this season, and stopping them could be pivotal to a Viking win tonight.
Sarah Hedgepeth, who just became the first Viking to earn Big Sky Player of the Week honors this season, had a double-double 19 points and 10 rebounds in that last win over Weber State. Nikki Petticrew had 16 points, 7 rebounds. These Vikings have been giving solid performances recently and should be ready for the Wildcats once again tonight.
The Vikings were also 1-1 against Idaho State last season. However, Portland State lost its final game against the Bengals, 84-65, on a particularly unlucky night in February. This game, in which absolutely nothing went right for the Vikings, was the complete opposite of the earlier Viking win, in which six PSU players posted double-digit point totals.
The downward spiral began for the Vikings in the first half of the Idaho State win, when they shot only 30 percent from the field and committed 15 turnovers. In comparison, the Bengals went on a 16-0 run at one point, shutting the Vikings out for a full six and a half minutes. Idaho State was also able to convert the PSU turnovers into 17 points and they went 54.8 percent from the field.
Bengal center Ashley Toner had an excellent game, with 36 points. She has retained her team-leading status this season and will most likely give the Vikings some trouble on Saturday night. Freshman forward Hallie Hickman has also been playing well recently for the Bengals, who are only 5-11 overall this season and 1-3 in the BSC.
Once again, Hedgepeth and Petticrew posted team-high point totals in that last match-up and will be the ones the Bengals need to look out for this weekend. PSU is currently 7-9 this season, 2-1 in conference play.