How Did Portland State University Win a College Basketball Game by 83 Points?

It was a rough night for the Portland Bible College Arrows.

On Thursday night, Portland basketball fans had several viewing options.

They could watch the Trail Blazers lose 128-109 to the Los Angeles Lakers, extending a dispiriting slump. Or they could brave the rain to Viking Pavilion and watch the Portland State University men’s team defeat Portland Bible College 114-31.

No, that’s not a typo. Portland State won by 83 points. They scored 38 points before the Portland Bible College Arrows could manage a single basket.

The thumping of the crosstown Bible boys caught the attention of local and national media. On my Twitter feed, the Portland State game was attracting nearly as much commentary as the Blazers loss.

Defector, the semi-legitimate offspring of Deadspin, even used the shellacking as a springboard to examine the phenomenon of Division I teams scheduling games against outmatched foes. (Opening sentence, very strong: “In a meeting of church and state, the state laid down the hammer last night.”)

In its official game recap, Portland State took pains to note that this was not the most lopsided win in Vikings history. Still, it raised questions: What is Portland Bible College? And why is PSU scheduling a game with them?

The first answer is easy enough: Portland Bible College is a four-year theological college affiliated with the nondenominational, evangelical megachurch Mannahouse Church. Its campus sits on the northeast flank of Rocky Butte, and looks like a flying saucer landed on an Army barracks. (It’s a nice place for a winter hike.) PBC is unaccredited by the state but hands out bachelor degrees in theology and church music. Basically, it trains pastors and worship leaders.

It has a basketball team. The Arrows play in the National Christian College Athletic Association. It is difficult to say how good they are; the NCCAA hasn’t updated season records since 2018. Last night, the team dressed six players. (A basketball team has five players on the court at any time.)

So why did PSU schedule them?

“Generally, the games are scheduled between the coaches,” says Michael Lund, a spokesman for PSU’s athletics department. “In our conference, schools are allowed to play two games against lower-division schools in a season. Most play those games. You will often see lopsided scores when that occurs. This particular game was very lopsided.”

Lund pointed to other similar blowouts, such as the University of Idaho’s 122-48 defeat of Walla Walla University earlier this fall.

“They aren’t my favorite games to watch,” he concludes, “but they happen.”