Tough week for PSU women’s basketball against Montana foes

Women’s basketball at Portland State is recovering from a harrowing first week of winter term, when a pair of losses against the University of Montana and Montana State brought the Vikings to a 0-3 record in the Big Sky Conference.

The Vikings first faced off against the University of Montana Grizzlies at the PSU Stott Center on January 7, 2016 at 7p.m. With a loss to Sacramento State by a final score of 91-132, the Vikings looked to bounce back against a red-hot Griz fresh off of a four-game winning streak.

The first quarter was a defensive battle, as both offenses struggled to put points on the board. The Vikings kept pace with the Grizzlies through the first quarter, trailing close at 12-13.

“The first quarter I thought we did a great job matching their intensity,” Vikings head coach Lynn Kennedy said.

The pace of the game picked up in the second quarter when both teams came back energized. However, the Grizzlies brought more intensity and began to pull away from the Vikings, jumping to a 15-point lead going into halftime with the score of 21-36.

Entering the second half, the Vikings needed a spark if they were going to have any success against the Griz. They gained momentum by switching their defensive style to full-court press.

“We had to pick up our intensity,” Kennedy said. “With a young team sometimes you just got to do things like that.”

The Vikings’ full-court press defense stunned the Grizzlies early in the third quarter, but Montana would later answer with aggressive defense of their own while steadily attacking on offense.

The momentum gained by the Grizzlies in the third quarter continued into the fourth quarter where they closed in on victory with a final score of 58-79. Montana forward Kayleigh Valley led all scorers with 29 points (11/17 FG), six rebounds and two blocks. Montana guard McCalle Feller also had a productive night, finishing with 25 points (8/17 FG, 3/7 3pt FG), four rebounds and six assists.

Vikings forward Pia Jurhar led the team in scoring with 17 points (5/9 FG), six rebounds and four blocks. Guard Ashley Torres came off the bench with 11 points (2/6 FG), two rebounds and two steals.

The trouble continued for the Vikings during their Saturday afternoon showdown with the Montana State Bobcats, who shut PSU down by a nearly 50-point margin at 106-59.

The Vikings took a strafing throughout the night, giving away over 25 points every quarter but the fourth, when Montana State locked down 24 to end the game. PSU’s offense lagged from the beginning, pulling no closer than 6 at 29-23 in the second quarter. The Bobcats answered by shutting down the Viks’ offense for a seven-minute 22-0 run.

Sophomore guard Cici West picked up the team high at 11 points, including 2-5 on the floor and 7-8 free throws. Junior forward Danah Haley closed out at 10 points, 1-5 in field goals and 6-10 from the foul line.

The Vikings head to the mountain states this week, continuing Big Sky play at 11 a.m. on Thursday at Weber State. They continue on to Pocatello, ID to face off against the Idaho State Bengals on Saturday at 1 p.m.