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VIKING WATCH: PSU women shorthanded with loss of Misa, plus 2 suspensions

To say Portland State will be shorthanded for Thursday's game against high-flying Sacramento State would stop short of describing the situation.

The Vikings have lost their best inside player, 6-1 senior Angela Misa, to a left knee injury suffered last week at Montana State.

And two other Viks have been suspended indefinitely by coach Sherri Murrell, who declined to give the players' names, suspension lengths or reason for the suspensions other than to describe them as "a violation of team rules over the weekend."

"Other teams read newspapers," Murrell said, when asked about the two players.

Sac State visits Stott Center for the 7 p.m. Thursday Big Sky game with an offensive style that has the Hornets atop all of NCAA Division I in 3-pointers made per game (14.4) and steals per game (16.1).

The Hornets also are third nationally in scoring (93.1) and sixth in turnover margin (plus-10.23).

Sac State's 11-2 start is the best in program history, and the Hornets 3-1 in the conference. Southern Utah derailed them 97-79 Saturday at Sac State, ending a nine-game winning streak that began with a 97-85 victory in Eugene over the Oregon Ducks on Nov. 17.

Portland State is coming off road losses at MSU (89-78 last Thursday) and Montana (94-58), and is 4-10 overall, 2-3 in league.

Without Misa, who had posted three consecutive double-doubles, the Vikings will be forced to go with a smaller lineup.

And they'll go smaller, Murrell says, in an attempt to combat the Sac State approach.

"They run a mathematics game," Murrell says. "They want to have the up-tempo offense and average 40-something 3s per game (42.3). They figure if you rush and shoot 2s, they're going to come down and shoot 3s and win the game.

"They don't want to have to play defense in the halfcourt."

The Viks, who played a nonleague schedule ranked 47th toughest out of 345 NCAA Division I women's teams, also have a home game at 2 p.m. Saturday versus Northern Arizona (4-9, 1-3).

"They just had a really big win (82-77 at home against Southern Utah on Monday)," Murrell says, "and it's tough coming back from playing Sac State, a team that wants to run you into the ground."

But Murrell says she likes her team's game plan for the Hornets, and adds, "we just have to regroup."by: COURTESY OF SCOTT LARSON - Emily Easom shoots for Portland State. She is averaging 10.2 points per game.

Last week, one of the highlights for PSU was the play of 5-10 sophomore guard Emily Easom, who had a season-high 21 points at Montana. Last year, she had a career-high 25 points in an 88-82 late-season home loss to the Hornets.

Misa, from Oceanside, Calif., was averaging a team-high 9.0 rebounds and 10.9 points per game.

"She was such a force in the middle for us," Murrell says.

Her injury is similar to one that ended her 2012-13 season with the Viks.

"It was a non-contact injury — it just happens with ACLs," Murrell says. "She had come back so strong and was at full strength.

"My heart breaks for the young lady. That's not how you want to end your career."

Misa brought even more than rebounds and points to the squad.

"Everybody on campus knows her — she's one of those bright lights who smiles and really was a force, not just for her size and what she could do on the court but as an energy booster for our team. She brought a lot of good qualities.

"But she's on the sidelines at practice and still helping us."

Murrell says the Vikings are waiting for results of an MRI to learn more about her injury and possible surgery; none has been scheduled.

PSU is shooting 37.5 percent from the field (29.3 percent on 3-pointers), and opponents are at 45.9 percent (35.2 percent beyond the arc).

Four Viks are scoring in double figures per game — Kate Lanz (13.0), Allie Brock (12.2), Misa (10.9) and Easom (10.2). Lanz leads in assists (4.7).

Misa was third on the team in scoring, tops in field-goal percentage (.473) and first in rebounds.

PSU Lanz, who has made 67 of 83 free throws, is one of only two players with more than three attempts per game. Misa was 27 of 55 at the foul line.