Friday, March 20, 2009

Kahle has record breaking outing as Vikings beat Portland to advance in WNIT Tourney

Though St. Patrick’s day has come and gone, Viking forward Kelsey Kahle is happy to still be seeing green.

“It feels like we’ve been playing in a red gym for a while,” Kahle said, referring to the Vikings last three games, all played at the University of Montana. “Its nice to be back in a green gym.”

With the home crowd behind her, Kahle poured in 30 points and collected 10 rebounds to lead the Vikings past the cross-town Portland Pilots, advancing to the second round of WNIT.

The 57-51 win represents Portland State’s first Division I post-season victory ever, and also the continuation of Kahle’s assault on the program’s record books. In her school-best seventh career 30 point game, Kahle also broke the school’s all-time rebounding record.

“I can’t even think of the words to describe how good it felt to play back home again,” she said after the game.

Though the home team proved triumphant at the end of the night, the visiting Pilots did not by any means roll over and die. Coming into the game, they were looking to avenge their 72-56 loss to the Vikings on November 26.

The Vikings jumped out to an early 19-10 lead, but the Pilots closed the gap and ended the half with a 15-2 run that put them up at the break, 25-21.

“We just kept battling,” Portland head coach Jim Sollars said of his team’s effort.

The Vikings looked to strike early in the second half, scoring the first two baskets on a Kahle lay-up and Lexi Bishop three-pointer. Bishop tallied a season high 12 points, making four of Portland State’s five three pointers on the night.

But the Pilots refused to back down, heading a 14-4 run that put them up 39-30 with 15 minutes left in the game. The Vikings’ cause was not helped by an off-shooting night from junior guard Claire Faucher, who went a dismal 0-10 from the field, making only a pair of free-throws for two points on the night.

But, in her usual style, Faucher dished a game high eight assists, many to the red-hot Kahle, who finished the night a scorching 11-12 from the field and 8-8 from the line.

Kahle and Bishop sparked a 15-2 Viking run that put the home-team ahead 45-41, but the Pilots rallied behind the stellar play of guard Laiken Dollente, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three steals.

It wasn’t until Kahle drained a jumper and hit a pair of free-throws in the final minute that the Vikings were able to distance themselves from their cross-town rivals. After the final buzzer, Kahle and her teammates already had their minds focused on the next hurtle in the road.

“Right now we’re all thinking about Saturday and going down to OSU again,” Kahle said.

Head coach Sherri Murrell echoed the sentiment.

“That’s the one game of the season we wanted back,” Murrell said, referring to the Beavers 58-24 drubbing of the Vikings on December 7. “All we need to do is figure out how to score,” she added.

If their first post-season game is any indication, the Vikings plan on meeting the Beavers with a much different looking team than earlier in the season.

Tip-off is scheduled for 7 p.m. Saturday at Gill Coliseum.

Written by Doug Cornett, Vanguard staff

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