Vikings Had Their Hands Full

OMAHA, NEB. — The history books will say Portland State came up short against Kansas (85-61) in its first ever NCAA Tournament appearance on Thursday at the Qwest Center Omaha. But Vikings' head coach Ken Bone believes his players can certainly hold their heads up high.

“I’m proud of our kids,” Bone said. “I thought they played as hard as they could and did the best they could. In that sense, I’m extremely proud of Portland State.”

The Vikings were actually within six points (24-18) with 9:17 remaining in the first half before the Jayhawks went on a 12-0 run and never looked back. PSU couldn’t make shots this day (38.2 percent field-goal shooting), while the Jayhawks blistered the nets for 54.2 percent. PSU had just one player in double figures (junior guard Jeremiah Dominguez with 13 points).

Junior guard Andre Murray (five points) said Portland State was hurt by KU’s big men and the ‘Hawks experience. Kansas forwards Darrell Arthur and Darnell Jackson scored 17 and 10 points, respectively.

“(Their inside) guys are pretty big compared to the people in our league and they’re a team,” Murray said. “They’ve been together two, three, four years. They move the ball really good and that gave us a lot of trouble.”

“They’re long, athletic, they change every shot,” Dominguez added. “They’re always there when you shoot.”

Senior guard Deonte Huff (nine points) echoed his teammates’ comments about KU’s defense.

“Even if you beat one guy, another guy was there,” Huff said. “They had great defense.”

Bone talked about his team’s game plan entering the game.

“We tried to stop the inside the first half and see if they could miss some threes,” he said. “But they shot eight for 13 and yet they got the ball on the inside and were effective there. I don’t think it’s any secret Kansas is a great basketball club. They showed it today, how strong they are in a lot of different areas.”

Despite the loss, the players were excited that a small contingent of Vikings’ fans made the trip from Portland to cheer on the team.

“It was great,” Huff said. “It was fun to have supporters and I’m pretty sure it was fun for them to come. (We) definitely appreciate them coming.”

Portland State finished the season at 23-10, the most wins in program history. After beginning the season with a loss at UCLA and ending the year bowing to Kansas, the team was already looking ahead to next year.

“(It’s) definitely an experience (NCAA Tournament) I’m going to cherish,” said sophomore forward Alex Tiefenthaler. “We want to come back next year and do the same thing. Hopefully, (we’ll) get a higher seed and get a win, maybe two. I’m excited for next year.”

Wichita native and senior guard Dupree Lucas knows who he’ll be rooting for to win the NCAA title.

“I told B.(Brandon Rush) to win it for us so it doesn’t look so bad,” Lucas said with a laugh. “It was fun. Those guys were cool. It wasn’t like they were out there trash talking or anything.”

With Portland State’s dream season now in the books, Bone relayed to reporters what he told his team in the timeout huddle with 2:42 left in the game.

“It’s a long five months and we go through a lot,” Bone said. “There’s a lot of ups and downs, but at the very end, I wanted them to know just how proud I was of what they’ve accomplished this year.”

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