If the game had gone as expected, Eastern Washington would now be 9-7 and be close to locking up a Big Sky tournament spot, and Portland State would be just about eliminated from tournament contention. Instead, after an upset win, Portland State and EWU are now part of a four-way tie for sixth place, and with each team having a difficult schedule down the stretch, they each have some work to do.
Portland State couldn't be stopped in this game, as they scored 87 points on 1.24 PPP, getting buckets however they wanted. They shot 19/37 inside the arc, 11/25 outside it, and shop 21 free throws. While Eastern Washington uncharacteristically struggled from the outside (4/15 threes), scoring 1.09 PPP should be enough to win most home games.
PSU was led by senior Kyle Richardson, who has been excellent from about the midpoint of the season on. In this game, he was their only big man that played more than two minutes, and he responded with 22 points, 8 rebounds, and 4 blocks, against a good EWU frontline. Richardson was far from the only star for the Vikings, however, as four other guys were in double figures, with a fifth scoring nine points. It was a balanced effort for PSU in this season-saving game.
Going forward, each team has the same schedule, so we'll see who can rise above.
At North Dakota and North Colorado
Home against Weber State and Idaho State
Neither team will be favored more than once the rest of the way, meaning they'll need to pull at least a little bit of an upset to increase their odds, if indeed 10 is the magic number.
The other big winners, in addition to PSU, is the other main contenders for the final spots in the tournament - Northern Arizona, Montana State, and Idaho State, because it now seems that everyone will be fighting for the final two spots rather than the final one spot.
The lesson, as always, you never know what to expect in the Big Sky this season, and things are always interesting.
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