PORTLAND, Ore. For the first time, Portland State is NCAA tournament bound.
Deonte Huff scored 17 points to lead the Vikings to a 67-51 victory over Northern Arizona in the championship game of the Big Sky Conference tournament.
"Our guys did a great job tonight," Portland State coach Ken Bone. "We shot well. There's a lot of mental toughness and confidence on our team now."
Kyle Coston added 14 points for top-seeded Portland State (23-9), which won its 14th straight Big Sky game, and Andre Murray had 13 points. Jeremiah Dominguez chipped in nine points and six assists.
Nate Geiser led Northern Arizona (21-11) with 13 points and Kyle Landry had 10 points and 11 rebounds for the Lumberjacks.
Portland State closed the first half with an 18-4 run that put them ahead 34-20 at halftime. The Vikings maintained their lead in the second half and led by as many as 17 points late in the game. Northern Arizona closed to within nine points but did not challenge down the stretch.
"We wanted it more all season," Huff said. "Our guys stepped up and moved the ball. Everyone went out and got it."
PSU shot 44 percent for the game and held NAU to just 34 percent from the field. The Lumberjacks outrebounded the Vikings 39-30.
Portland State made six of its first nine shots. After Coston connected on a 3-pointer with 16:01 left in the first half, the Vikings were up 14-8.
"We wanted to intimidate them early because who knew what they were capable of," Huff said. "Coston he hit his open shots and was a key to the win in both of our games."
Northern Arizona pulled even at 16-16 when Matt Johnson hit a 3-pointer and was fouled with 12:02 left in the first half.
Portland State went on its 18-4 run at the end of the first half that included Huff's break-away dunk, Dominguez's steal and jumper, and back-to-back 3-pointers by Brian Curtis and Dupree Lucas that put the Vikings ahead 34-20 at halftime.
Northern Arizona scored just one field goal in the last 12 minutes of the first half and never made a serious run the rest of the game.
"What was most impressive to me was that our guys did a great job of holding NAU to 10 points in 15 minutes," Bone said. "We saw last night how good NAU was but they are better than they showed tonight. I think it had a lot to do with our guys' aggressive defense."
The Vikings will await the NCAA tournament bracket announcement Sunday to find out who and where they will play next.
"Whoever we play we will continue to do what we have talked about all season, which is going out and playing to the best of our ability," Bone said. "It's nice to have a short break before the selection on Sunday night."
MOUNT ST. MARY'S 68, SACRED HEART 55: At Fairfield, Conn., Jean Cajou and Kelly Beidler each scored 15 points and Mount St. Mary's earned a trip to the NCAA tournament for the first time since 1999 with a win over Sacred Heart in the Northeast Conference championship game.
NO. 25 MARQUETTE 67, SETON HALL 54: At New York, Jerel McNeal scored 21 points and No. 25 Marquette held Seton Hall scoreless over the final five minutes of a victory in Wednesday night's opening round of the Big East tournament.
The sixth-seeded Golden Eagles (23-8) will play third-seeded and 14th-ranked Notre Dame in the quarterfinals on Thursday night.CALIFORNIA 84, WASHINGTON 81: At Los Angeles, Patrick Christopher scored 25 points, Ryan Anderson had 22 points and 16 rebounds, and California rallied for a victory over Washington on Wednesday night in the first round of the Pac-10 tournament, giving the Golden Bears another shot at UCLA. The ninth-seeded Bears (16-14) and top-seeded Bruins (28-3) meet in a second-round game Thursday five days after UCLA won a controversial 81-80 decision in the regular-season finale.
Teams that have already clinched NCAA Tournament berths:
Austin Peay, Ohio Valley
Belmont, Atlantic Sun
Butler, Horizon League
Cornell, Ivy League
Drake, Missouri Valley
George Mason, Colonia
Mount St. Mary's, Md., NE Conf.
Oral Roberts, Summit
Portland State, Big Sky
San Diego, West Coast
Siena, Metro Atlantic
Western Kentucky, Sun Belt
Winthrop, Big South