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‘They’re my family’: Amid coronavirus pandemic, Vikings basketball shows special bond far beyond the court

The PSU women's basketball team was ready to build on a strong season, but then the sports world stopped and reality set in. That's when teammates stepped up.

PORTLAND, Ore. — The Portland State women's basketball team couldn't wait to get back to work. A young squad, ready to build on a season that ended in a strong way, winning four of its final five games, then the sports world stopped and reality set in.

"I do think it's the best situation in terms of keeping everyone healthy, but it's just kind of sad, especially with the way our season ended. Everyone was ready to go," said PSU guard Ruchae Walton.

With no hoops and no classes to attend, it was time to go.

"With everything changing so often, no spring workouts, the actual spring term would be online, it was time to look at flights and go from there because the situation going from bad to worse day after day," said Walton.

Easier said than done to get home for a couple of international players like Walton.

"I was just hoping that they don't close the borders before I get there," she said.

While home is thousands of miles away for Walton and forward Marina Canzobre, there was family all around them, like forward Erika Brumfield.

"I got my car, I'm loading them up," said Brumfield. "I don't know how many are coming mom, but there's more than me, we're coming home. I was asking all of them. I was like, 'Marina you got somewhere to go'? She was like, 'No, so cool, you're coming with me.'"

Walton went with Tatiana Streun and her family in Bellevue, Wash.

"It meant the world, I was so appreciative of it. The Streun family, they were amazing hosts and they made me feel right at home," Walton said.

After a week and a half, Canzobre was able to make it home to Spain and Walton touched down in London. Teammates helping each other in tough times. An assist that's deeper than basketball.

"When you have that real special bond off the court, it's so much easier on the court to find flow, to find rhythm and to believe in one another," said Walton.

"They're my family, 100 percent," said Brumfield. "That's our priority and it's just nice because they have my back and I have their backs."

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