Vikings show progress despite fall at home in Montana State
PORTLAND, Ore.— It’s not a mad rush to seek progress in a loss. The Portland State women’s basketball team can see a lot of progress in the way they played Monday despite falling 82-57 at home to one of the Big Sky Conference powerhouses in the State of Montana.
The Vikings outscored a Montana State team, 39-37, which entered the game ranked third in the Big Sky in rebounds per game. Additionally, the Vikings held a 14-10 advantage on offensive glass despite the Bobcats ranking second in the conference in offensive rebounds per game. The Vikings hadn’t won the rebound battle against any Big Sky opponent this season until Monday night, and hadn’t beaten an NCAA Division I team on the boards since rebounding Prairie View A&M 41 -39 on November 20.
“I feel like we improved tonight. We had better energy. We were more together and I can handle that. Being one person to step in, it will be a collective effort,” the coach said. -head of the state of Portland. Chelsey Gregg said after the game.
“I’m really proud of the team for winning the rebound battle. That was one of our goals tonight. Fourteen offensive rebounds are huge. I wish their 10s weren’t there, but to win 39- 37 against a tough, older team like that that crashed hard, I was proud of that effort.”
The Vikings also saw progress in the way they distributed the ball. The Vikings assisted on 15 of their 21 field goals, with the 15 total assists marking their most in a game as they had 19 in a near win over Northern Arizona on January 29. Esmeralda Morales had eight assists on Monday, setting a new conference season record for the Vikings’ freshman point guard.
“I thought Esme, especially in the third quarter, made really good decisions with the basketball. She found open teammates and they were able to knock down shots. I liked that flow,” Gregg said. about the death of the team.
“We would have had even more assists if we had made some open shots. We had the looks tonight that I thought we had struggled to find before. The next level is to knock down more.”
Six of Morales’ eight assists came in the third quarter when the Vikings used a hot start to get back within striking distance. The Vikings scored more points in the third quarter (22) than they did in the entire first half (17), and 16 of those 22 points came in the first five minutes after halftime . Savannah Dhaliwal scored a quick 10 points in the third quarter as she hit double figures in the period in just over four minutes of playing time. Also, after Dhaliwal scored her 10th point in the third, she got a steal on Bobcat’s ensuing possession, which led to a quick layup in the middle of contact for Jenna Kilty. Kilty converted the three-point game and the Vikings came back to under 11 by then after trailing to 18 points in the first half.
So, good energy after a big deficit at the start of the game against one of the best teams in the Big Sky Conference? Progress
The Bobcats, to their credit, didn’t falter as the Vikings surged in the third quarter. They never let the game get closer to 10 points, and after that they closed the third quarter on a 12-3 run. They extended that with the first five points of the fourth quarter, giving them a 63-39 lead with nine minutes left in the game. The Vikings wouldn’t get closer to 21 the rest of the way.
“They’re a well-trained veteran team. They’ve been in those situations before and know how to handle that. We’re still learning that,” Gregg said of Montana State’s ability to respond to runs. of the Vikings.
The three-point shot hurt the Vikings as the Bobcats always seemed to hit a big three-pointer when they needed it. The Bobcats finished 10 of 19 (.526) deep in the game and generally held a sizable advantage in efficiency categories. The Bobcats outscored the Vikings .492 to .339 overall and won the turnover battle by forcing 17 of the Vikings while committing only seven themselves.
The Vikings responded with their own three-point shooting barrage. The team took 36 three-point attempts, setting a new program as the previous record was 35 in a game at Syracuse on Nov. 22, 2008. The 36 attempts weren’t bad shots either, as a lot of between them were open. looks. The Vikings ended up knocking down 12 of their 36 attempts, tying a season high for marks this season.
Jada Lewis went 4 of 12 from beyond the arc as she led the Vikings with 14 points to go with five rebounds. Lewis also had a big away game when the Vikings faced the Bobcats in Bozeman on Jan. 22 earlier this season. Lewis has gone 5-of-7 from the deep end of this game, which means she’s gone 9-of-19 (.474) in the Vikings’ two games against the Bobcats this season.
Dhaliwal tied a season and a career high with three marks from deep herself as she had her best game since having 16 points against Northern Arizona on Jan. 29. Dhaliwal finished with 13 points, including 10 in that third-quarter run, and added eight rebounds and two assists.
Morales and Kilty each had two three-pointers while posting 10 and 9 points respectively. Mia ‘Uhila hit the other three-pointer, part of a night of five points, four rebounds and two assists for the freshman guard.
Rhema Ogele led the Vikings on the boards as she recorded her first double-digit rebound game since the opening week of the season. Ogele finished with 11 rebounds, including six from the offensive glass (a career high). Five different Vikings finished with at least four rebounds in the game, as in addition to Ogele, Dhaliwal had eight, Lewis had five and ‘Uhila and Reilly Kelty each had four.
So while Monday ended with another loss for the Vikings, it still gave the Vikings some momentum ahead of a week-long road trip. This road trip begins in two days, as the Vikings head to Weber State for a rare conference game on Wednesday night. The tip between the Vikings and Wildcats is scheduled for 5:00 p.m. PT / 6:00 p.m. MT.
Game Notes: The Vikings fell to 30-40 all-time against Montana State with the loss on Monday…Montana State found itself tied with Idaho State for first place in the Big Sky standings with his victory over the Vikings… The Vikings were without Alaya Fitzgeraldwho led the Vikings in points in all 12 games since their season restarted Jan. 15, due to concussion protocols… Kelty had three blocks in the game, the fifth time this season she had at least three blocks in a game.