As his team waited Monday night for a charter bus that was already an hour late, Portland State men’s basketball coach Ken Bone was roughly 20 minutes from calling Gonzaga officials and telling them that Tuesday’s game wasn’t meant to happen.
But the bus eventually came and, after roughly 10 hours on the road split over two days, the Vikings showed up. Gonzaga, not so much.
Portland State outplayed, outhustled and outsmarted the seventh-ranked Bulldogs, winning 77-70 before a stunned and quiet gathering of 6,000. The Vikings (9-3) became the third visiting team to win at the McCarthey Athletic Center, joining Washington State last year and Santa Clara two seasons ago. GU is 55-3 at the MAC since it opened for the 2004-05 season.
“We definitely got what we deserved,” Gonzaga coach Mark Few said.
The Bulldogs (8-3) have dropped three of their last four games, but this one was different than falling to Arizona in Phoenix and No. 2 Connecticut in Seattle on Saturday.
“The wake-up call was against Connecticut,” senior guard Jeremy Pargo said. “That was the wake-up call. And we came out asleep tonight.”
Portland State was 0-11 against ranked teams since reinstating the basketball program in 1996-97. But the defending Big Sky Conference champions pulled off the upset behind 5-foot-6 guard Jeremiah Dominguez’s seven 3-pointers and 25 points, and by outrebounding the Zags, who were about 3 to 4 inches taller at nearly every position, 39-30.
“Last year we made it to the (NCAA) tournament and this year we beat a ranked team,” Dominguez said. “Our program is building and this is going to help a lot.”
The Vikings had 13 offensive rebounds, five of which led to 3-pointers, and built up a 27-5 edge in second-chance points.
“We just flat-out got manhandled by guys that are smaller than us,” Few said. “If you get beat on the glass like that and they’re making their 3s, which we talked about – our game plan was to keep them from shooting 3s and make them beat us with 2s – just a pretty poor job all the way across.”
The Vikings’ flight from Portland on Monday was canceled because the region was hit by snowstorms. They hopped on a bus after 7 p.m. Monday and spent the night at a truck stop near North Bend. They arrived in Spokane at about 1:30 Tuesday afternoon.
“We got our pregame meal, went back to the hotel and I told the guys, ‘You have 30 minutes, change and we’ll meet you in the ballroom and we’ll walk through their stuff,’ ” Bone said. “Maybe that’s the way to do it. Maybe that was a way not to fear a great team. We didn’t have time to think about it.”
Gonzaga had no such excuses. The Bulldogs returned from Seattle on Saturday night and had a team meeting where Few warned his players not to overlook the Vikings.
“We knew they were a good team, but we were just taking it as if we knew we were going to get a win,” forward Austin Daye said. “That just shows what can happen.”
The Bulldogs got beat to loose balls, they missed layups and dunks, and they lost track of Dominguez and his teammates on the perimeter. PSU made 12 of 31 from long distance.
The Vikings led by as many as nine in the first half before GU rallied within 38-37 at half. Gonzaga led 61-59 after Daye’s 4-footer with 6:10 remaining, but the Vikings responded with an 8-1 run. Dominguez chased down an offensive rebound and hit a 3-pointer, followed by Julius Thomas’ putback as PSU went in front 67-62.
Pargo’s three-point play gave Gonzaga its last lead, 69-67, with 2:16 left, but the Bulldogs scored just one more point – a Pargo free throw with 25.3 ticks remaining.
It was even at 69 when Dominguez drove and GU’s defense collapsed in the paint. He dished it out to Phil Nelson, who buried his only 3-pointer in six attempts, giving the Vikings a 72-69 lead. Dominic Waters’ two free throws helped seal the upset.
“We kind of brought it to them in the beginning and it kind of backed them off a little,” Dominguez said. “They started second-guessing themselves and they didn’t really take the shots they usually take.”
When Gonzaga tried to turn up the heat late, Portland State kept its composure.
“It’s embarrassing playing the way we did in the first half,” said guard Matt Bouldin, who had a team-high 18 points. “By the time we started bringing it, it was way too late.”
Gonzaga will take a few days off for the holiday break before returning to practice Saturday. The Bulldogs visit Utah on New Year’s Eve.
PSU 77, (7) Gonzaga 70
|Portland State (9-3)||Min||M-A||M-A||O-T||A||PF||PTS|
Percentages: FG .459, FT .692. 3-Point Goals: 12-31, .387 (Coston 0-4, Nelson 1-6, Murray 2-4, Dominguez 7-10, Waters 2-5, Mara 0-2). Team Rebounds: 39. Blocked Shots: 2 (Nelson, Jones). Turnovers: 13 (Coston 2, Jones 3, Murray 2, Dominguez 3, Thomas 2, Waters). Steals: 6 (Nelson, Jones, Murray, Dominguez, Waters 2). Technical Fouls: None.
Percentages: FG .429, FT .750. 3-Point Goals: 7-19, .368 (Daye 1-4, Heytvelt 0-1, Pargo 0-2, Bouldin 2-4, Downs 2-5, Gray 2-3). Team Rebounds: 30. Blocked Shots: 4 (Daye 2, Heytvelt, Brown). Turnovers: 11 (Daye 2, Pargo 3, Downs, Goodson 2, Gray 2, Brown). Steals: 7 (Daye, Bouldin 4, Downs, Gray). Technical Fouls: None.
Halftime–Portland State 38, Gonzaga 37. A–6,000.
Local journalism is essential.
The journalists of The Spokesman-Review are a part of the community. They live here. They work here. They care. You can help keep local journalism strong right now with your contribution. Thank you.
Subscribe to the sports newsletter
Get the day’s top sports headlines and breaking news delivered to your inbox by subscribing here.