PORTLAND – Freshman Kelsey Kahle scored a career high 24 points with 15 rebounds as the Portland State University upset the University of Arkansas, 67-65, at the Stott Center.
The win gives PSU the best start in the Division I history of the program at 3-1 as Arkansas drops to 2-2 for the season.
“We started the game rough and we let Portland State feel like they could play with us,” UA head coach Susie Gardner said. “We waited too late to make a run, and they made the big shots when they needed them.”
Arkansas was led by Whitney Jones with 16 points, and got 12 points each from Kristin Peoples and Rochelle Vaughn.
The Vikings controlled most of the second half, but stalled in the final minutes scoring only five free throws in the last five minutes of the game.
Meanwhile, Arkansas’ defense gave the Lady’Backs a pair of chances. Sheree Thompson missed a pair of free throws with 30 seconds left, then after Delaney Conway hit only one of two free throws with 12 seconds left Arkansas missed a pair of field goals that could have won the game.
“We’re a young team and we’re still trying to get a feel for who needs to be on the floor at the end of the game,” Gardner said.
Kahle tied her season high by intermission, and finished with her first double-double at Portland State
Arkansas’ offense never got on track with a season-high 28 turnovers, leading to 27 points off turnovers for the Vikings.
“We had too many turnovers, and that was the difference,” Gardner said. “We certainly had the chances at the end, but we didn’t make it happen.”
A four-point outburst gave PSU the lead as Kahle scored her career-high breaking 18th point just after halftime, 43-42. The Vikings kept the lead as the game devolved into a defense struggle. The teams combined for only three field goals for over five minutes down the stretch with the score stuck on 56-54 in favor of PSU for almost two minutes.
Kahle managed to extend the PSU lead to four, 62-58, with 5:19. The teams stalled again until Jones hit an inbound layup with 3:57 to pull Arkansas back within two, 62-60. Four straight free throws put the Vikings up with their largest lead of six, 66-60.
The best field goal shooting in just over four years only gained Arkansas three-point halftime lead, 42-39. Arkansas shot 63% from the field in the Stott Center, bettering 61.8% against Louisiana-Monroe back in November 2001.
Unfortunately, the Arkansas’ backed it with one of the worst shooting halves with 21.6% for the second half on the way to a 39.1% for the game.
The Lady’Backs committed 15 turnovers in the first half alone, and the poor ball handling by Arkansas allowed Portland State to jump out to an early lead. With all five starters getting a bucket early, PSU led by as many as seven before the Lady’Backs regrouped.
Arkansas countered by pounding the ball down low to Jones and Moore before Washington drove the baseline for the Lady’Backs’ first lead, 17-15, with 12:54 left. The Lady’Backs shot the lights out at the Stott Center in the opening 10 minutes, hitting 73% from the field, but the Vikings stayed close as Arkansas could not find an offensive rhythm, committing nine turnovers in the first 10 minutes.
PSU regained the lead on Heather Arns’ three-pointer with 9:49 to go, 22-21, as the momentum see-sawed for the next six minutes as each team put together brief runs.
Kahle took over the game for the Vikings late in the half with personal 8-2 run against Arkansas to give PSU a three-point, 34-31, lead at 3:53. The 5-10 freshman scored almost half of PSU’s first half points with 16.
Arkansas regrouped with outside shooting from Rochelle Vaughn and Peoples to head into halftime with the lead, 42-39.