While Portland State students enjoyed a three-week winter break, the Viking women’s basketball team stayed hard at work, struggling to end an away-game losing streak while also trying to keep a perfect home record intact.
The Vikings defeated Illinois State 72-54 at the Peter Stott Center on Dec.20. The win came as a result of impressive Viking defense, which forced 26 turnovers. The offense was similarly impressive, converting those turnover opportunities into 31 points. Comparatively, Illinois State only forced 13 PSU turnovers, resulting in four converted points.
PSU guard Nikki Petticrew, who has been playing solidly all season, once again led the team with 19 points. Sophomore guard Heidi Stuart contributed a career-high 16 points to the Viking victory, putting an end to a four-game losing streak.
PSU continued to have problems on the road in Riverside, Calif., on Dec. 28. Having lost their last four away games, the Vikings were determined to pull out a win and didn’t give up without a struggle. They only trailed the UCR Highlanders by three with 1:33 left in the game, when UCR went on a 6-0 run that sealed the win.
Heidi Stuart led the Vikings, topping her previous career-high scoring total of 16 by two points. Center Carrie Spencer, who recently rejoined the team after recovering from an injury, added 10 points and 11 rebounds. The Highlanders were able to hold Petticrew to only five points, a factor that may have won them the game. Last season, Petticrew scored 28 points in PSU’s 75-64 victory over the school.
The Vikings went on to lose yet another game in California two days later in Irvine. The sixth straight road loss was an especially lopsided one. PSU only held the lead over UC Irvine once in the game, when Petticrew scored a three-pointer on the team’s first possession. The Viks eventually lost 86-64.
On Jan. 3, the Vikings home winning streak was finally put to an end by the Pepperdine Waves, who pulled out a 79-65 victory at the Stott Center.
“We gave them too many second shots,” PSU head coach George Wolfe stated in a recent press release. “They are a very talented team, and you can’t afford to give a team like that extra looks at the basket.”
Waves seniors Keani Christianson and Tamara McDonald each led their team with 18 points, while Sarah Hedgepeth and Carrie Spencer scored 16 and 11 points respectively for the Vikings. Freshman forward Tiffanie Ward saw some playing time for the Vikings and made the most of her seven minutes, scoring a career-high nine points. Leading Viking scorer Petticrew was held to only eight points on 3-of-8 shooting.
The Vikings only had to travel across town to face the University of Portland Pilots at the Chiles Center on Jan. 4. A “River City Rivalry” victory was what the team needed to pull itself out of an away-game slump. Unfortunately their losing streak continued as they fell to U of P, 66-52.
The Vikings looked good going into the second half with an 11-point lead, but the determined Pilots soon fought their way back, outscoring the Vikings on a 21-4 run. PSU was able to tie the game at 49-49 with 4:56 left in the half, but it was not able to contain another 16-3 run by the Pilots.
Pilot Khalila O’Reilly-Williams ended the game with 20 points, while teammate Jamie Medley came off the bench and scored a perfect 6-6 from the field and 1-1 from the free-throw line. Petticrew and Hedgepeth led the Vikings with 11 points each.
The Vikings, who defeated the Pilots in last season’s match-up between the teams, do not play their Portland rivals again this season and will have to wait another year to even the score. Next up, the Vikings will finish up non-conference play tonight at the Stott Center. The Vikings will tip off against San Diego State at 7:05 p.m.