PORTLAND, Ore.— Portland State upset North Dakota, 81-67, in the regular season finale Friday evening at the Stott Center. The Vikings, who improved six games in the conference season over last season's 2-16 record, will earn the seven seed in the first round of the Big Sky Conference Tournament. A win there-- over No. 10 Northern Arizona-- would set up a rematch of these teams in Wednesday's quarterfinals.
“Tough way to end the season, but we’ll use this to redirect our focus,” UND head coach Travis Brewster said. “All we can do is prepare for the three-game season that is in front of us now, starting on Sunday. Winning the second conference title in four years is no easy task which means our ladies are still plugging away to get better.”
Senior Leah Szabla paced the UND attack with 17 points, part of three Fighting Hawks in double figures. Samantha Roscoe chipped in 14 while Fallyn Freije added 13.
North Dakota held an early lead, building a lead as many as eight before PSU (14-16, 8-10) rallied to take an advantage into halftime. PSU held a 32-30 edge at the break but it was the third quarter that was the difference. In that frame, Portland State out-scored the Fighting Hawks, 23-16, and never looked back.
PSU, who also has a win over the other co-champion Montana State this season, got key contributions from Ashley Bolston (24 points), Cici West (11 points, 15 rebounds) and Courtney West (15 points, 8 blocks, 4 assists, 4 rebounds).
North Dakota (20-9, 15-3) will share the regular season championship with Montana State. UND will take the two seed into the Big Sky Conference Tournament with the quarterfinal round beginning Monday. UND will get the winner of the No. 7 Portland State and No. 10 Northern Arizona matchup in a 7:35 p.m. Central tip.
Notes: Friday's game marked the final game at the Peter Stott Center in its current setup ... PSU will play its games at an off-campus facility next season before the Stott Center re-opens in 2018-19 with an expanded capacity of 3,000 ... UND shot 61.5 percent in the opening quarter (8-13), but combined to shoot 28.6 percent the rest of the way (12-42) ... North Dakota is 8-4 all-time against PSU, but 2-4 in the Stott Center.