ANCHORAGE – Senior guard Daniel Berger led No. 16 BYU-Hawaii men's basketball to an 81-62 victory over Alaska Fairbanks on Friday at the Alaska Airlines Center.
"Traveling is tough and, for being on the road so far, I thought we played well," BYU-Hawaii head coach Ken Wagner said. "I think defensively in the second half we did a real nice job. It's nice not having much drop off between our top two groups and both played really well tonight."
Berger had a game-high 19 points to go with six rebounds, three steals and a block. Senior center Jordan Stone added 15 points to go with six rebounds and junior forward Ian Harward added 12 points and five rebounds. Sophomore point guard Justin Yamzon provided a spark off the bench with nine points and four assists.
The BYU-Hawaii (7-0, 2-0 PacWest) big men proved too much to handle for Alaska Fairbanks (2-6, 0-2 GNAC) as the Seasiders held a 51-25 advantage on the glass and outscored the Nannooks 21-0 on second chance points. After allowing Alaska Fairbanks to shoot 50 percent from the field in the first half, the Seasiders buckled down on defense in the second half holding them to 38.5 percent shooting.
The win also gave BYU-Hawaii its best start to a season in program history through the first seven games. The 2008-09 Seasiders started the season at 6-1 on their way to a 27-2 overall record.
Clinging to a three-point lead, BYU-Hawaii came out of the locker room hot to score the first six points of the half and take a 46-37 lead with 17:55 left. A 3-pointer by Alaska Fairbanks made it a six-point game, but Stone scored four straight to spark a 7-0 run and give the Seasiders their first double-digit lead at 53-40 with 14 minutes remaining. It was all the room the BYU-Hawaii would need on their way to victory.
The game started with the teams trading baskets until, senior guard Pablo Coro sparked an 8-0 run with a step-back 3-pointer to give the Seasiders a 17-11 lead. The teams continued to trade baskets and the Nanooks battled back with a 9-0 lead to retake the lead 33-28 with 4:26 left in the half.
BYU-Hawaii answered quickly as Stone scored six points during an 8-2 run led to retake the lead with two minutes remaining. Berger scored the final four points of the half to give the Seasiders a 40-37 lead heading to the locker room.
The half saw five ties and eight lead changes as neither team could establish a lead greater than six. Although shooting a lower percentage than Alaska Fairbanks from the field in the half, BYU-Hawaii's 12 offensive rebounds kept them ahead.
After the strong start to the second half by the Seasiders, a tip-in by Harward and a 3-pointer by Yamzon sparked a 9-2 run to extend the Seasiders' lead to 72-55 with 4:09 remaining. Senior guard Luke Aston and Yamzon hit two more shots from behind the arc in the final minute of play to give BYU-Hawaii its largest lead of 19 to end the game.
The Seasiders return to the court tomorrow to take on Alaska Anchorage at 7 p.m. Alaska Standard Time. Live video, audio and stats will be available online.