Things were even early on as the two sides traded baskets until Portland State ran off seven straight near the five-minute mark to open up an eight-point advantage. Emily Easom dropped in a three to start the run and Delanie Parry added back-to-back scores to put the Vikings out in front, 30-22.
Southern Utah trailed 36-27 entering the final minute of the period, but a three-point play on a basket and a foul for Moreland and a buzzer beater three from Desiree Jackson gave the T-Birds the last six points of the half to narrow the deficit to 36-33 at the break.
Portland State did the majority of its scoring from the outside early on, hitting five of its first ten attempts from 3-point range. Easom had eight first half points for the Vikings while going 2-3 from beyond the arc. SUU held a 21-14 advantage on the glass and led 18-10 on points in the paint as Moreland scored 11 in the first 20 minutes.
The Thunderbirds used a 13-2 run to take control at the start of the second period, with the first five points coming again from Moreland. Mandelko capped the rally with a three and SUU went up 46-38 less than five minutes in.
The lead grew into double figures halfway through the period, but Portland State battled back to cut the difference to four as Mikaela Rivard sank a 3-pointer with just over seven minutes to play.
The home team pulled back within four again late in the game, but the Thunderbirds went 8-10 from the free throw line over the last two minutes to come away with the 86-79 final.
SUU went 17-22 from the foul line in the second half and outrebounded the Vikings, 36-20. Portland State shot 52.9 percent from 3-point territory and 59.2 overall, but the T-Birds posted a 38-26 advantage on points in the paint for the game and a 19-6 difference on second chance points.
Moreland’s 25 points matched her career-high while Mandelko scored at least 20 for the fifth time in conference play this season. Andrea Jones chipped in another 11 for the Thunderbirds and Jackson finished with 10 points.
Southern Utah plays its last four regular season games at home starting with a matchup against Montana this Wednesday. Big Sky Conference Tournament positioning will be on the line when the two teams meet in the Centrum Arena at 7:00 p.m. Coverage of T-Bird basketball is available online at www.suutbirds.com.