Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Vikings Stumble into Big Sky Championship

Written by: Tom Sedun, Vanguard staff

Ogden, Utah- For the second consecutive season, the Portland State Vikings have reached the Big Sky conference tournament championship game. And for the second consecutive year they reached the conference championship by defeating Idaho State.

The Vikings were able to pull out a 61-53 victory in front of 2779 at the Dee Events Center on the campus of Weber State.

The road back to the final did not come easy for the Vikings who let Idaho State rally from a 19-point halftime deficit.

“Well it wasn’t the prettiest of games but we are glad that we were able to win,” said Portland State head coach Ken Bone. “It feels great to be back in the championship game. It’s something we have been striving for all season long.”

Andre Murray led all scorers with 24 points and scored 13 of Portland State’s 19 points in the second half. “They were beating us in transition,” Murray said. “I felt I needed to score the ball for us.”

Portland State went on a 22-2 run in the first half to give the defending Big Sky champions a 42-23 halftime advantage, Phil Nelson scored 12 of his 14 in the first half.

But much like their earlier meeting in Pocatello, the Bengals opened the second half with an 18-3 run and had all the momentum late in the ball game.

“I told the guys that this game was just like that one. Idaho State is a very good team and could have very well been in the championship game,” Bone said.

With the Bengals only trailing the Vikings by three with Jeremiah Dominguez sealed the Portland State victory by hitting three free throws, all in the final minute.

“It’s great we are back in the championship game,” said the first team all Big Sky guard. “But we need to play focused for forty minutes in order to win tomorrow.”

Even though the game was not the finest performance from the Vikings, the victory was satisfying enough, at least for one night.

“A win is a win,” said Andre Murray. “It doesn’t matter if it’s a blowout or by one point, I’ll take it.”

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