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Two wins on the road secure a postseason spot

The mission for the men’s basketball team two weekends ago was to win its last four games of the regular season to earn a chance to play in the postseason. The Vikings succeeded one step at a time, winning two games at home and then beating Northern Arizona and Sacramento State on the road this past weekend.

“This was the biggest road trip on our schedule, and easily the biggest games we’ve played and won in a while,” head coach Joel Sobotka said.

It was two full halves of basketball on Friday night that led the Vikings to an 88-79 victory over the Northern Arizona Lumberjacks. Portland State’s offense clicked in the first half, led by Anthony Lackey’s 17 points. The Vikings shot 57.1 percent from the field and hit five three-pointers in the first half to jump out to an early lead. NAU hung around shooting an even 50 percent from the field, but only 2-9 from three-point range. At the end of the half, the Vikings held a 40-36 edge.

After the break the Lumberjacks recaptured the lead with about 12 minutes remaining in the game, 58-54. Through the next nine minutes of play, Portland State went on a 24-10 run to regain the lead for good. The Vikings improved on an already hot shooting percentage, shooting 64 percent. Their stingy defense forced the Lumberjacks into bad shots and poorer shooting from the field at 46.7 percent. Lackey ended with a career high for points at 31 and nine rebounds. In support of his performance, Jeb Ivey added 14 points and seven assists. Seamus Boxley and Kevin Briggs added 12 apiece, including 15 combined in the run to recapture the lead for good. The Vikings played an intelligent game, only turning the ball over 10 times, and had 10 more assists than the Lumberjacks (22-12).

“Anthony played awesome and everybody contributed and stepped up like I knew they could,” Sobotka said.

On Saturday night, the energy stayed with the Vikings as they ousted Sacramento State on its home floor, 74-67. Lackey once again led the way for Portland State, scoring a game-high 30 points and grabbing a game and season-high 12 boards. Lackey had 17 big first half points to lead his team into the locker room tied with Sacramento State, 39-39. Coming out in the second half, the Vikings battled back and forth with the Hornets for the lead. After trailing one last time 64-63, Portland State made a run to finish the game, just as they had the night before. The Vikings edged out the Hornets 11-3 over the final six minutes of the game to finish with their fourth win a row.

Portland State pushed up the intensity on both ends of the court in the second half, shooting 50 percent from the field and lowering the Hornets’ shooting from 48.3 percent in the first half to 33.3 percent in the second. Along with Lackey’s 30 points, there were two other players in double figures. Ivey had 14 points, including four three-pointers. Billy Feeney was in double digits with 11 points, and grabbed eight boards. The Vikings were also able to win the battle on the glass as a team handily, 40-30, and played unselfishly once again, handing out 19 assists total.

“Our main goal is to play ball in March, and now it’s 0-0 for everybody. We have a chance to go to the big tournament with three more wins. It’s exciting because it’s the postseason and it’s what college ball is all about,” Sobotka said.

Next up on the agenda for the Vikings will be Weber State on Thursday, March 8. The game will take place on Montana State’s home floor in Bozeman, Mont. The Vikings are 1-1 this season against the Wildcats, each team winning its game at home. Home court advantage will cease to be a factor, as both teams will play on the neutral floor in Bozeman.

Anthony Lackey named Big Sky Player of the WeekPortland State men’s basketball player Anthony Lackey had a stellar weekend and was rewarded yesterday for his effort with Big Sky Conference Player of the Week honors.

The 6-foot-5 senior forward led his team to two road victories last weekend. Lackey scored a career-high 31 points and had nine rebounds in the Vikings’ 88-79 win over Northern Arizona on Friday night. The win, coupled with Sacramento State’s loss to Eastern Washington, propelled the Vikings into the Big Sky Conference post-season tournament.

Lackey made 12 of 18 field goals, including a career-high seven of 11 from three-point range. He added three assists and two steals.

On Saturday night, Lackey came back with an equally impressive double-double (30 points and 12 rebounds) performance in the Vikings’ 74-67 win at Sacramento State. His 12 rebounds were a season high. Lackey hit 11-19 from the field, 3-8 from three-point range and 5-6 free throws. In addition, he had two assists, two steals and two blocks in the game.

In Lackey’s last four games (all resulting in PSU wins) he had 102 points (25.5 ppg), 31 rebounds (7.8 rpg), 12 assists (3.0 apg) and seven steals (1.8 spg). Lackey has shot 37-58 (64 percent) from the field, 17-29 (.586) from three-point range and 11-14 (79 percent) at the line.

The conference honor marks the second time this year that Lackey has been the BSC Player of the Week.

-Beth Tarasawa