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ON COLLEGE HOOPS/BY PAUL DANZER/PORTLAND TRIBUNE/PSU women still gunning for first place in Big Sky

By sweeping a four-game home stand, the Portland State men have climbed to within one game of fourth and fifth place in the Big Sky.

The Vikings (13-14, 8-8) are seventh in the 11-team league. The top five teams get first-round byes in the conference tournament. PSU has a chance to move up with visits Thursday to last-place Idaho and Saturday to Eastern Washington, which is tied for fourth.

The Vikings used strong interior defense to hold off Sacramento State 65-57 last Saturday. It was the fewest points scored by Portland State in a win in 148 games, dating to November 2014. A program-tying record 10 blocked shots highlighted the defensive effort. Sal Nuhu led five Viks who had rejections, making three. Nuhu also had a team-high 12 points and 14 rebounds as the usually uptempo Vikings won despite shooting only 40 percent.

• First place in the Big Sky women's race will be on the line at 7 p.m. Thursday when Idaho visits Portland State. The Vandals are first at 13-3, the Vikings third at 12-4.

Portland State is 20-5 overall and coming off a bounce-back win at Sac State highlighted by a season-high 22 points from Ashley Bolston. Bolston hit five 3-pointers to help PSU overcome a sluggish start in a game that followed a big loss at Idaho State.

Idaho and EWU will be the final home games for four seniors who have helped raise the profile of PSU women's basketball: Bolston, Sidney Rielly, Courtney West and Pia Jurhar.

• The Portland Pilots men (7-22, 0-14 West Coast Conference) conclude a tough regular season on Saturday when they play host to Santa Clara at 7 p.m. Unless they pull a major upset on Thursday at Saint Mary's, the Pilots will be shooting to end a 16-game losing streak and avoid a winless WCC season. Portland has shown a bit of fight in losing its three most recent games, all close down the stretch and all on the road.

• The Pilots women (12-15, 4-12 WCC) play two games at Chiles Center to wrap up their WCC slate. Loyola Marymount visits the Bluff at 7 p.m. Thursday, and Pepperdine plays there at 4:30 p.m. Saturday in a doubleheader with the men.

• Whitman overcame a 10-point deficit to beat Whitworth 107-102 in the Northwest Conference men's championship game on Saturday. Andrew Vickers, a transfer from Lewis & Clark, led the Blues with 32 points and hit 6 of 7 3-pointers.

George Fox beat Whitworth 66-52 last Saturday for the NWC women's basketball title. The George Fox women and Whitman men earned automatic berths to the NCAA Division III tournaments.

Whitman, ranked second and 25-1, will play host to the first two rounds, facing Texas Lutheran on Friday.

George Fox's women (24-3 and ranked 11th and 13th) will open Friday against Greenville (Illinois), at Washington University in St. Louis.

• Concordia senior guard Jarrett Gray was one of four Great Northwest Athletic Conference men named to the NCAA Division II District 8 All-Academic Team.

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