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Viking Watch

What happened at Stott Center last Saturday — a one-point game between Portland State and Idaho — is a scenario that could play out numerous times when the Big Sky Conference men’s basketball season gets underway Dec. 29 (Jan. 2 for PSU, which will open at Idaho State).

The Vikings lost Saturday’s game 76-75 to Idaho, a team that will switch from the Western Athletic Conference to Big Sky next fall.

“Idaho would be in the upper half of our league,” Portland State coach Tyler Geving says. “It was disappointing for us at the end, because we had a chance to win it.

“But just about everybody in our league is going into the season probably feeling that they’ve got a chance to beat anyone on any given night. And a lot of games will come down to the last three or four minutes, like ours did with Idaho.

“And even when we get to the conference tournament, I don’t think seeding is going to mean very much.”

The Vikings are 4-4 with one nonconference game remaining — 2 p.m. Monday at home against NAIA Evergreen. PSU has had a four-game win streak and now is on a three-game losing streak. But Geving says the Vikings might be playing a little better now than they did in November.

“We’ve improved in a lot of different areas, and we’ve had some guys step up who we didn’t necessarily think would this early,” he says, “but I wasn’t very happy with our defense against Idaho.”

Guards Tim Douglas and DaShaun Wiggins have carried a lot of the load offensively. Douglas has 16.1 points and 4.3 assists per game, averaging 36.2 minutes. Wiggins, in 22.4 minutes per game, is scoring 14.0 points, with 4.1 rebounds. He had a season-high 22 points against the Vandals. “He’s been a pleasant surprise,” Geving says.

A big key, though, for the Vikings will be whether their big men come on in January and February.

Forward Aaron Moore, a 6-8 senior who was their leading returnee up front, is averaging 11.1 points and 6.0 rebounds — not bad numbers — but Geving says he would like to see even more of Moore.

“He’s kind of just played OK, and he knows that,” Geving says. “Last year, he was pretty consistent with double-doubles. We need to get him going a little bit more.”

CATALDOJunior transfer Brandon Cataldo, 6-10, 290 pounds from Rainier, “has shown some strides,” Geving says, but Cataldo has played just 13.7 minutes per game, with 5.5 points and 4.2 rebounds.

“He’s been our first big man off the bench, and hopefully he can alter some shots at the rim during league play,” Geving says. “He’s just got to be consistent and give us 15 to 20 minutes a night, protect the rim and get some rebounds and putbacks.”

And then there is 6-6 junior forward Tiegbe Bamba from Paris by way of two junior colleges. He is still on the mend from an Achilles injury suffered about 11 months ago, but is close to seeing action.

“We could use one more body around the basket, and if we could get him going in league or even the second half of the league season, that would really help,” Geving says.

n The Portland State women also are down to their final nonconference game - and it’s the crosstown rivalry game of the season versus Portland. Tip-off is 2 p.m. Saturday at Stott Center.

The Vikings were 2-5 going into a Tuesday game at Georgia Tech. Their only victories have been against Corban and Columbia.

The Pilots (5-4) also beat Columbia, and have wins over Eastern Washington, Washington, Seattle and Boise State as well.