BOISE, Idaho — Freshman Desirae Hansen is Portland State’s best clutch shooter in practice. On Friday, Hansen made one count for real.
Hansen’s fade-away jumper from the elbow with 2.9 seconds left lifted the Vikings to a 61-59 victory over Eastern Washington at CenturyLink Arena, and clinched Portland State’s first Big Sky Conference tournament championship in nine years
“Every little kid dreams of hitting a shot like that,” noted Hansen, who also said coach Lynn Kennedy “put the ball in my hands, told me what I needed to do, what to look for and gave me the trust, so I shot the ball.”
PSU rallied from seven points down with 5:35 remaining to make its second NCAA women’s basketball tournament appearance since 2010. Portland State (24-7) will learn its first-round tournament matchup on Monday.
“We do last-second situations all the time in practice, and she hits more last-second shots,” Kennedy said of Hansen. “So we were kind of saving it for the moment and today she stepped up.
“She wasn’t a freshman today. She was a veteran player that stepped up and hit a big-time shot.”
Eastern Washington (13-19) had a chance to tie the game on an inbounds play under the basket with 0.7 seconds left. Violet Kapri Morrow got a good look from the baseline but her shot rimmed out as the buzzer sounded.
Ashley Bolston led four Portland State players in double figures with 16 points, and also grabbed 10 rebounds and dished out five assists in 38 minutes. Courtney West added 11 points and seven rebounds for the Vikings.
The Eagles led 57-50 after a made basket by Grace Kirscher but didn’t score again until there were just 20 seconds remaining. In the meantime, Bolston, Sidney Rielly, Kylie Jimenez and Jordan Stotler all made baskets to spark the Vikings' comeback.
Alissa Sealby had 15 points to lead the Eagles and Jessica McDowell-White added 14. Eastern, which hasn't been to the NCAA tournament since 1987, led for nearly 30 of the game's 40 minutes but was unable to close it out.
“It feels like my heart has been ripped out of my chest,” EWU coach Wendy Schuller said.