Pamplin Media Group – Portland Pilots Dominate PSU Vikings In Men’s Basketball
The drivers build a comfortable first-half lead, rolling 69-54 against Portland State on Tuesday at the Viking Pavilion.
If Tuesday’s basketball competition between the Portland Pilots and the Portland State Vikings was a glimpse of how the transition process is going for the two programs, the Pilots will appreciate the picture.
It’s an image the Vikings might want to remove.
Portland’s defense set the tone in the first half and Portland State never threatened in the second half of the Drivers’ 69-54 victory at the Viking Pavilion.
After the first cross-town game for first-year head coaches Shantay Legans in Portland and Jase Coburn in Portland State, it’s safe to say Legans was in a better mood.
“I was most proud of the way our guys defended and rebounded. I thought it was great the way they played.
Four drivers scored in double digits, but it was the defense and rebound (51-43 advantage) that proved essential for Portland to build a lead in the first half.
Portland State shot just 31% and missed all nine 3-pointers in the first half, en route to finish 2 of 23 of 3.
“In the first half, we didn’t keep. In the second half we did a better job defensively, which we are. We are first and foremost a defensive team, ”said Coburn.
The Pilots too. PSU looked great early on, especially after some offensive rebounds. But Portland was the most active team to defend in the half court, and once the Vikings saw the good looks fail, they seemed to lose patience.
“We started off a little shaky, but once we get together you see we’re a hard team to score on,” Portland forward Tyler Robertson said of the defensive performance. “I think overall our defensive play was most impressive considering this is only our sixth game together.”
Yes, this is the sixth game this season. But Robertson, Mike Meadows and Jack Perry followed Legans and assistant coaches Bobby Suarez and TJ Lipold from east Washington to Portland. So while the pilots have 14 newcomers and only two players who are top class students in terms of eligibility, this little familiarity seems to help the pilots get off to an encouraging start.
Tuesday’s victory was the fifth in a row for Portland, following a first loss to Arizona State.
Portland State is 2-2 but 0-2 against opponents in Division I. The Vikings step up the competition on Friday with a game in Iowa. Coburn will be looking for a better performance on the defensive end.
“We didn’t put the pressure on the ball well. We didn’t keep the ball well, we kind of opened up the 3-point line for them,” said Coburn. “We kept the ball very well all year. Tonight we just didn’t.”
For Portland, Robertson, a 6-6 goalkeeper / striker from Melbourne, Australia, played 38 minutes on Tuesday, scoring 12 points, grabbing nine rebounds and distributing five assists. In his third season playing for Legans, he offers stability to the pilots.
“The coaches have done a really good job of instilling confidence in every player that comes in,” said Robertson. “And having that confidence from the coaches has helped us build every game. From game to game, we’ve been constantly improving.”
Next for UP, there will be three games in three days at the Incarnate Word tournament in San Antonio, Texas, starting at noon Friday against Montana State.
The Drivers used two bursts – including a 17-0 run at the end of the first half – to take the lead. Portland led 37-20 at half-time and up to 26 points at the start of the second half.
Chris Austin, a 6-4 sophomore who played at Fordham last season, led the Pilots with 15 points and also picked up nine rebounds. Moses Wood had 10 points and 10 boards.
In addition to what Legans has described as high intelligence basketball on his roster, Portland has a certain size to work with. Matheus Silveira, a 7-foot sophomore from Brazil in his third college season, finished with 13 points, seven rebounds and two blocked shots in 19 minutes. He’s recovering from an injury, but was a handful of downs against PSU.
Legans is also bred on 6-10 freshman Vasilije Vucinic from Montenegro.
6-8 senior forward James Jean-Marie, a transfer from Hawaii, led Portland State with 17 points, 10 rebounds and one blocked shot. Senior goalie Ezekiel Alley, a transfer from the Nazarene North West, had 11 points and three assists off the bench.
Coburn said his team took good shots, for the most part, but saw too many achievable shots coming off the rim. It didn’t help that 6-10 senior Khalid Thomas only played eight minutes in the first half after making a few quick fouls around the perimeter.
The bitter result is one that the Vikings will learn from, Coburn said.
“Every opportunity like this can be a learning opportunity,” he said. “It depends on what we do with it. ”
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