Montana State (12-16) at Portland State (16-13)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, March 3, 10:00 p.m. (ET)
FACTS & STATS: Site: Stott Center (1,500) -- Portland, Oregon. Television: None. Home Record: Montana State 7-6, Portland State 9-3. Away Record: Montana State 5-10, Portland State 5-10. Neutral Record: Montana State 0-0, Portland State 2-0. Conference Record: Montana State 7-9, Portland State 10-6. Series Record: Montana State leads, 27-18.
GAMES NOTES: The third-seeded Portland State Vikings will clash with the sixth-seeded Montana State Bobcats in the second quarterfinal matchup of the Big Sky Conference Tournament at the Stott Center this evening.
Portland State might not be thrilled with its draw despite the higher seed as Montana State swept the season series with the Vikings this season and holds a 27-18 advantage in the all-time series.
Montana State finished the year with a lackluster 12-16 overall record and a 7-9 mark in league play by crumbling in the month of February. The Bobcats lost seven straight in the month before collecting a 79-60 win over Northern Arizona in the regular-season finale on Monday.
Portland State closed the season on a much stronger streak winning six of its last seven including the last three in a row after edging out Northern Colorado 75-74 in its final regular season matchup. The Vikings were not overly impressive on their way to a 16-13 overall record but did play well enough in league play for a 10-6 record.
The winner of this game will face off with either top-seeded Weber State or second-seeded Montana depending on the outcome of the other quarterfinal, with the lowest seed remaining matching up with the Wildcats.
Montana State salvaged its season on Monday by routing Northern Arizona. In the game the Bobcats shot at an even 50.0 percent and lit it up from three point range (12-of-24) while limiting the Lumberjacks to just 39.6 percent shooting in the contest.
The Bobcats were near the middle of the conference in terms of offense this season averaging 70.6 points per game which was good enough for fifth in the nine-team conference. Defense was another story, as the Bobcats surrendered 71.9 points per game, often putting themselves in deficits. Montana State was really weakened when they lost lead scorer Xavier Blount (11.7 ppg) earlier in February after he was injured in a bar incident. With Blount out, sophomore forward Shawn Reid has really stepped up 20.3 points per game in the last four contests to raise his scoring average for the season into double digits (10.8 ppg). Junior guard Christian Moon (10.4 ppg) has also improved and is coming off a 15-point effort in the regular-season finale, while Tre Johnson (9.0 ppg, 6.2 rpg), who normally makes his presence known on the boards, put in 14 points to come back from a scoreless game in the previous contest.
Charles Odum knocked down two free throws with three seconds remaining that proved to be the difference in Portland State's 75-74 win over Northern Colorado. The Vikings trailed by three (74-71) with 37 seconds left on the clock but took advantage of poor free-throw shooting from the Bears to escape with the win.
It has been normal all season for Odum to carry the Vikings to victory as he is currently second in the conference in scoring (19.1 ppg). He increased his numbers by scoring a team-high 22 points against Northern Colorado. Odum has scored in double figures in all but two games this season and has done so recently by getting the free-throw line, as he has had at least 12 attempts from the charity stripe in three straight games. Odum hasn't had to do it alone as he is joined by senior forward Chehales Tapscott (13.9 ppg, 9.2 rpg), who currently leads the Big Sky in rebounding. As a team, Portland State has used the scoring of Odum and Tapscott to rank second in the conference in scoring (76.4 ppg) and leading in field-goal percentage (.483). The Vikings were unable to run away with more wins because they allow 73.4 points per game.
Portland State is facing a different Montana State team than the one that took it down twice this year. With Odum and Tapscott playing at a very high level, the Vikings will reverse their fortunes and finally get a win against the Bobcats.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Portland State 74, Montana State 70
03/03 10:42:00 ET