Portland St. 62, Montana St. 58
Claire Faucher came out and missed her first shot of the game,
and Portland State’s leading scorer worried that it might be a
She needn’t have been concerned.
Faucher hit a Big Sky tournament record eight 3-pointers en
route to 26 points as Portland State beat Montana State 62-58 on
Saturday to win the tournament and its first trip to the NCAA
“I’m thankful they were falling tonight,” said Faucher, a
5-foot-9 senior guard who made 8-of-16 from 3-point range.
Faucher’s career high had been five 3-pointers twice.
“I always think before a game that I’m not going to shoot the
3, tonight I’m going to attack,” said Faucher, who averages 13
points per game. “Then I come out and start pulling up 3’s.”
Portland State (18-14) has been living off 3-pointers all
season. The Vikings shot a team record 622 of them during the
regular season, and 49 more in the first two tournament games. They
are making 32 percent of those on the season.
Saturday they made 11-of-30 to bury the Bobcats (18-14).
Portland State won its first Big Sky Conference championship and
will be making its initial NCAA appearance since joining Division I
in the 1996-97 season. The Vikings, the No. 5 seed, beat perennial
power Montana in the semifinals on Friday.
“It means a lot to this program,” said coach Sherri Murrell,
who has rebuilt the team in her third season. “That’s all we are
going to expect from here on out.”
Sarah Strand had 19 points and Erica Perry 18 to lead Montana
State (18-14), the No. 6 seed. The Bobcats upset top-seeded Eastern
Washington on Friday to advance to the finals.
The Bobcats were seeking only their second trip to the
Coach Tricia Binford was proud that her team won nine of its
previous 11 games to reach the final.
“The Bobcats have had a great season,” Binford said.
But they had no answer for Faucher.
“A championship game is when big time players turn up, and
Claire Faucher is one of those players,” Binford said.
Montana State shot 40 percent to the Vikings’ 33 percent, and
outrebounded them 46-35. But they also committed 20 turnovers.
Portland State was making its second straight appearance in the
championship game, after losing to Montana last year. They were the
preseason pick to win the Big Sky. Last year’s team played two
games in the WNIT, their first postseason appearance.
Eryn Jones added 11 points for Portland State. No one else was
in double figures.
Portland State led 29-24 after a first half in which neither
team shot well, and consecutive baskets by Kate DePaepe gave the
Vikings an early 38-30 lead.
Montana State answered with a 10-2 run, and Katie Bussey’s
3-pointer tied the score at 40 with 14:12 left. Faucher hit a pair
of 3-pointers to keep the Vikings ahead as the teams traded
Baskets by Strand and Perry brought Montana State within 51-50.
But a layup by Kelli Valentine and Faucher’s eighth 3-pointer gave
the Vikings a 56-50 lead with 6:30 left.
MSU’s Janette Jackson hit a pair of layups to cut PSU’s lead to
56-54. After Faucher scored on a breakaway steal, Bussey hit a
3-pointer to lift the Bobcats within 58-57.
Valentine scored on a jumper with 1:33 left, and Montana State
missed a couple of shots on the other end to trail 60-57 with a
minute left. Portland State inbounded the ball and ran time off the
clock. Faucher missed, but Valentine rebounded with 30 seconds left
and Montana State was forced to foul.
Jones made a pair of free throws for Portland State, and Perry
replied with one of two for Montana State. Faucher’s long inbounds
pass was intercepted and Montana State had the ball with 13.4
seconds left and trailing 62-58, but the Bobcats turned it
In the first half, Portland State missed its first 10 shots but
still built a 16-11 lead.
Montana State went six minutes without scoring before
consecutive 3-pointers by Strand brought the Bobcats within 18-17
with 5:19 left. Faucher hit a pair of 3’s for a 24-19 lead.
Kelly Marchant’s 3-pointer lifted Portland State to a 29-24
The Vikings average more than 21 3-point attempts per game, but
hoisted 20 in the first half alone, making seven.
Montana State has appeared in the NCAA tournament once, losing
to Washington in the first round in 1993
These teams split the season series, each winning at home.
Montana State fell to 1-7 all-time in Big Sky title games.