LAIE, Hawaii – Bailey Kikuchi carried BYU-Hawaii men's basketball on a resilient comeback, but the Seasiders fell short in a 73-64 loss to Alaska Fairbanks Monday in the Cannon Activities Center.
"It was the tale of two halves," BYU-Hawaii head coach Gabriel Roberts. "The first half couldn't have gone worse. The second half I was really proud of the way we dug ourselves out of a hole and gave ourselves a chance to win. That's what happens if you just take care of the ball, run your sets, things work out usually well."
Kikuchi led all players with 17 points as he went 4-5 from behind the arc and Tanner Nelson fought through sickness to contribute 15 points. Caeleb Roney and Jeff Given each contributed 10 rebounds. LaDonavan Wilder had a team-high 15 points for Alaska Fairbanks (1-3), while Brandon Davis finished with 14.
The Nanooks finished shot 40 percent from the field, as BYU-Hawaii (0-1) shot 38.2 percent. The difference came in the first half when the Seasiders turned the ball over 16 times, but rebounded with only three in the second half. BYU-Hawaii outrebounded the Nanooks 42-39 and added six steals.
After a slow start for BYU-Hawaii, Bryce Nattress sunk a 3-pointer to put the Seasiders within four as the Nanooks led 12-8 with 12:26 remaining in the period. Alaska Fairbanks answered back with an 8-0 run powered by Brandon Rowden's six points to extend their lead to 23-10.
Trent Molesworth and Derritt Scarver each hit shots behind the arc to lead a 10-1 run to extend the lead to 35-15 with 3:31 on the clock. The Seasiders were unable to close in as they went to the locker room trailing 39-21.
Alaska Fairbanks built a 24-point lead early in the second half, but BYU-Hawaii found its rhythm as Nelson sparked an 18-point run that featured two 3-point shots by Kikuchi and five points from Given to close the deficit to 47-41 with 11:29 remaining.
The teams traded baskets as the Seasiders stayed close on the Nanooks' heels with a 6-1 run to make it 56-52 with 6:33 in the game. They continued to alternate fouls and Alaska Fairbanks rebuilt a 66-57 advantage with one-minute remaining.
The Seasiders take the road to play at Alaska Anchorage on Friday at 5 p.m. AKST. Live stats, video and audio will be available online.