Portland State had not beaten a Top 25 team since reinstating its basketball program in 1996-97, and there weren’t many signs the Vikings figured to do it against No. 7 Gonzaga on Tuesday night.
They barely made it to the game because of winter weather. They had lost 10 straight to the Zags and two of their past three overall.
But Jeremiah Dominguez scored 25 points and the Vikings made 12 3-pointers to beat the Zags 77-70.
“This is a big statement for us,” said Dominguez, a 5-foot-6 senior. “This program is building.”
Dominguez was 7-of-10 on 3-pointers, and the Vikings made 12-of-31 as a team. Phil Nelson and Dominic Waters added 16 points for Portland State (9-3), which is 1-11 against nationally ranked opponents.
The Vikings, the defending Big Sky Conference champions, outrebounded the taller Zags 39-30, held them to 42 percent shooting and forced them into 11 turnovers.
Gonzaga (8-3) was coming off an 88-83 overtime loss to No. 2 Connecticut in Seattle on Saturday.
“We got what we deserve,” coach Mark Few said. “They outhustled us, outrebounded us and outplayed us.”
Few sensed trouble when the game was first scheduled so soon after the nationally televised matchup with Connecticut.
“The guys didn’t take it seriously enough,” Few said. “And our confidence got knocked back a bit after the UConn game.”
He praised Portland State for smart and tough play.
“We got manhandled by guys smaller than us,” Few said.
Matt Bouldin had 18 points and Josh Heytvelt added 13 for the Zags, who have lost three of four.
This game was almost called off because an epic snowstorm has snarled travel throughout the Northwest. With flight cancellations and highway closures, Portland State took a roundabout route to Spokane. They bused to Seattle, overnighting in the suburbs. Then they bused across the state and arrived in Spokane about 31/2 hours before game time. They did not have time for a practice shootaround, but still ended up shooting 45.9 percent.
“Maybe that’s the way to do it,” Portland State coach Ken Bone joked. “This game was very close to not being played.”
Portland State lost by one point to Washington last week, and played UCLA and Kansas last season.
“We were not in awe of Gonzaga,” Bone said.
It was the Zags’ third home loss in 58 games since the McCarthey Athletic Center opened in 2004. They lost to Santa Clara in 2007 and Washington State last year and had won 10 straight since.
Consecutive 3-pointers by Waters and Dominguez gave Portland State a 65-61 lead with 4:06 left. Julius Thomas’ basket made it 67-62 in favor of the Vikings.
Heytvelt hit a short jumper, and Austin Daye’s steal led to Jeremy Pargo being fouled on the break. He made both free throws to cut Portland State’s lead to 67-66 with 2:40 left.
Portland State again threw the ball away and Pargo grabbed the inbounds pass, slammed it home and was fouled. His three-point play gave Gonzaga a 68-67 lead with 2:16 to go.
Waters’ runner tied the score at 69 with 1:45 left.
Gonzaga turned the ball over on a possession arrow after Heytvelt’s shot stuck against the rim.
Nelson’s 3-pointer gave Portland State a 72-69 lead with 44 seconds left. Pargo missed on the other end, and Portland State rebounded and Waters was fouled with 30 seconds left, making both for a 74-69 lead.