Viking women climb to top, men sweep weekend games
Shedding a bit of light on local college basketball news that might have been missed, given the focus on three Civil War games over four days …
• The Portland State women have climbed to the top of the Big Sky after their first weekend road sweep in conference play since January 2012. The Vikings (19-4) rolled to wins at Northern Arizona and Southern Utah and are 11-3 in Big Sky play. They lead a pack of four teams bunched atop the standings, with Idaho (10-3), Idaho State and Northern Colorado (both 11-4).
Next comes a meaningful Thursday game at Idaho State, where PSU will try to avenge a 58-57 home-court loss to the Bengals. Of their six remaining regular-season games, only two are at Viking Pavilion, including a Feb. 28 visit from Idaho.
• The Portland State men also had a weekend sweep, home-floor wins over Northern Arizona and Southern Utah that improved the Vikings to 11-14, 6-8 in Big Sky play. They stay at the Viking Pavilion for 7 p.m. games Thursday against Idaho State and Saturday against Sacramento State.
The Bengals (9-15, 5-10) and Hornets (11-12, 5-9) trail the Vikings in the standings. If the Viks can build upon a four-game string of home-floor wins, they will get to .500 in conference. Currently seventh in the Big Sky, PSU is 1 1/2 games out of fifth place. The top five teams at the end of the season get byes into the quarterfinals of the Big Sky tournament.
In the wins over NAU and SUU, Holland "Boo Boo" Woods combined for 46 points, 18 assists and 10 rebounds.
• Portland sophomore guard Maddie Muhlheim, a Sunset High grad, set a Pilots women's basketball program record on Saturday by making nine 3-pointers in the Pilots' 22-point win over visiting San Diego. Mulheim was 9 for 13 on 3-point shots and made eight of them after halftime en route to a career-high 27 points. Mulheim made six 3-pointers in the third quarter. She bettered the Pilots record of seven 3s in a game accomplished by Jennifer Wassom (2005) and Holly Blades (2016).
It had to be a cathartic win for the Pilots (11-14, 3-11 WCC), who had suffered a tough one-point home loss on Thursday to second-place BYU.
• The frustration continues for the Pilot men, who were oh-so-close to their first conference win on Saturday before losing in overtime at Chiles Center to San Francisco. The Dons outscored Portland 15-10 in overtime to drop the Pilots (7-20) to 0-12 in the WCC. Portland plays Thursday at San Diego and Saturday at Pepperdine. The one remaining home game for the Pilot men is March 2 against Santa Clara.
• The Cascade Collegiate Conference men's and women's tournaments start this week, with the Warner Pacific men and women and the Multnomah women each playing a quarterfinal game on the road.
The Warner Pacific men (16-13) travel to Caldwell, Idaho, on Wednesday for a rematch of last season's CCC championship game, won by the College of Idaho. On Feb. 9, the Knights lost 78-68 at Caldwell. The Yotes won 75-57 in January at Warner Pacific.
Collin Malcom, one of six Warner Pacific seniors, finished fifth in scoring (19.3 points per game) and fourth in rebounding (8.1) in the CCC.
College of Idaho (25-5) was ranked third in the Feb. 5 NAIA Division II national coaches' poll, but is the No. 2 seed for the CCC Tournament. Oregon Tech, ranked 10th, is the No. 1 seed after finishing alone atop the standings with a 15-3 conference record.
The semifinals are on Saturday and the championship on Feb. 26. The other men's first-round pairings have Northwest at Oregon Tech, Southern Oregon at Northwest Christian, and Eastern Oregon at Corban.
Northwest, from Kirkland, Washington, earned the final tournament spot with Saturday's 104-98 win at Multnomah, denying the Lions their program's first CCC playoff appearance. Both teams finished 6-12 in CCC play, but Northwest won both games against Multnomah, which gave the Eagles the playoff spot.
Multnomah junior guard Justin Martin scored 40 points in Saturday's season-ending loss. Martin, hampered by a sore knee late in the season, averaged 31.9 points per game, which through Saturday's games continued to lead NAIA Division II scoring and was more than 11 points better than the second-highest average in the CCC. The Lions had four of the top 11 scorers in the conference.
Multnomah (15-15) was first in the CCC in scoring (97.6) but last in scoring defense (95.8).
On the women's side, Multnomah (11-17) is the No. 8 seed into the CCC tournament and faces a 7 p.m. Tuesday game at league-winner Eastern Oregon (25-3). Warner Pacific (15-12) plays at Oregon Tech (22-8).
In their fourth season in the CCC, this is the second conference playoff berth for the Multnomah women, whose 11 wins overall are a program record. The WPU women finished first in the CCC in steals (13.4 per game) and second in assists (16.9).