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Freshmen step up for men’s basketball

The Vikings played two winnable games at home over the weekend resulting in a victory against Sacramento State on Friday and a defeat against Northern Arizona on Saturday.

After a strong showing on Friday night to beat Sacramento State, 86-83, the NAU Lumberjacks were too much inside as Portland State fell hard, 77-60.

On Friday night, the Vikings went up against a team that had not won a game on the road yet this season. It was freshman Billy Feeney who provided the winning basket with 11 seconds left on the clock. The Vikings actually trailed with just 30 seconds left in the game, 83-80. Freshman Aaron Fitzgerald sank two free throws, and the Vikings forced a turnover off of a trap in the backcourt, which led to the winning lay-up by Feeney out of a time-out.

The Vikings finished with three players in double figures, Fitzgerald, Feeney, and Anthony Lackey. Lackey also recorded a double-double, grabbing 10 boards to go along with his 22 points. Portland State won the overall board battle 34-27, and shot 55.9 percent from the field to just 48.3 percent for the Hornets. Leading all scores was Hornets guard Joe Dawson with 30, including seven from behind the arc.

“We rebounded and shot the ball well, but we need to work on our defensive stops and not letting them (Sacramento State) get into the paint,” Feeney said.

Northern Arizona proved to be a more admirable opponent on Saturday night, beating the Vikings by 17 points. The win moved NAU into sole possession of fifth place in the Big Sky. With the loss, the Vikings dropped into a three-way tie for sixth place.

The Vikings simply could not get on track at the offensive end, shooting only 41.7 percent for the game, just 36.4 percent in the second half. NAU shot 54.9 percent for the game and an exceptional 58.3 percent in the second half. The Lumberjacks were able to out-score Portland State by fewer than 10 points in each half, but nonetheless controlled the tempo in doing so. NAU shot 52.9 percent (9-17) from the three-point arc, as Portland State shot just 26.1 percent, hitting only six out of 23 attempts.

The Lumberjacks were able to out-rebound the Vikings 35-27; they also attempted 11 more free throws on the night than did Portland State. There were five players in double figures for the Lumberjacks to balance their offensive attack, opposed to only three for the Vikings.

“We’re not getting back on defense and we need to improve on our communication out there,” sophomore transfer John Glaser said.

With two key seniors, Jerrohn Jordan and Charles Madison out of commission for the rest of the season, winning the next seven games will not be an easy task.

Next up for the Vikings are Montana and Montana State. This time the Vikings will travel to Missoula and Bozeman on Friday and Saturday night.