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Vikings rekindle flame, keep playoff hopes alive

It was a heart-warming farewell Saturday night, as seniors Anthony Lackey and Charles Madison said farewell to their fans, teammates and the Stott Center floor playing their last home game.

The weekend’s results couldn’t have turned out better for the seniors, as the Vikings beat two Big Sky Conference teams to stay in the playoff hunt. The Vikings beat third place Weber State on Friday night, 83-77. With that momentum the Vikings returned Saturday night to out-shoot Idaho State, 91-78. These were the first back-to-back wins for the Vikings since they beat non-conference opponents Concordia and Loyola Marymount.

“This weekend we played as intense as we have in a while,” head coach Joel Sobotka said.

PSU beat Weber State from all angles on Friday night, putting five players in double-figures for scoring. The Wildcats went down early, shooting 38.5 percent in the first half compared to 51.9 percent for the Vikings. Portland State played suffocating defense to take the Wildcats out of their offense and followed up by executing on the offensive end. At halftime the score read 40-31 in favor of the Vikings.

Weber State came storming back in the second half tying the game at 62 apiece. There were seven ties and 12 lead changes throughout the game. But after the game was tied at 62, there wouldn’t be any more lead changes after the Vikings went up for good on a Jeb Ivey three-pointer. Ivey went on a streak, hitting three more three-pointers within the next four minutes of the game extinguishing hopes of a last minute comeback by the Wildcats. Ivey led the Vikings in scoring with 20 points 6-10 from the field and four three-pointers. Lackey added 16 points and six rebounds on 5-10 from the field. Troy DeVries also had 16 points, including 3-5 from beyond the arc.

“I thought the guys played unselfish and really shared the ball,” Sobotka said.

The Vikings shot their way past Idaho State Saturday night with Lackey leading a first half charge from behind the arc, hitting four three-pointers in the first half alone. Portland State jumped out to an early lead going into the locker room with a seven-point edge shooting 65 percent from the three-point line in the first half. Although the Vikings led going into the locker room, the Bengals shot better from the field in the first half at an even 60 percent as opposed to 58.8 percent for the Vikings.

But it didn’t matter for the Vikings as they came out of halftime red hot, shooting an uncanny 77.8 percent from the field in the second half and 62.5 percent from beyond the arc. Unfortunately, for the Bengals, their shooting cooled off, putting them at only 40.7 percent in the second half and just 30.7 percent from three-point territory. Lackey and Ivey contributed 25 points each including five three-pointers apiece.

Aaron Fitzgerald came off the bench to hand out seven assists and Seamus Boxley had a career high five assists. Although Portland State was able to win they had no answer for Bengal forward Jeremy Brown who hit 13-21 from the field, eight three-pointers, for 37 points and also grabbed 12 boards. The Vikings did win the battle on the glass, 28-23 and handed out 13 more assists than Idaho State, 28-15.

This night was not only memorable because of Senior Night, but because the Vikings broke two records with their hot shooting. They set two new school records, shooting 65.4 percent from the field and an even 64 percent from beyond the arc.

“We need to take care of business on the road next week. It’s the top six teams that make the Big Sky, so we do have a chance,” Sobotka said.

Portland State’s record now stands at 10-15, 4-8. This weekend is the last two regular season games for the Vikings. They will first travel to Flagstaff, Ariz. on Friday night to challenge Northern Arizona. Then they finish with a decisive match-up in Sacramento, Calif. against Sacramento State.