LAIE, Hawaii – Tanner Nelson hit a 3-pointer with 13 seconds remaining to give BYU-Hawaii men's basketball an 80-79 victory over Azusa Pacific Saturday in the Cannon Activities Center.
"The team played really hard for the entire game," BYU-Hawaii head coach Gabriel Roberts said. "They started off with an 11-0 run at the very beginning and lacked intensity. That's been one of our focuses this week, playing with intensity the entire game. Even when things didn't work out perfectly in the beginning, we were aggressive and assertive and things started going our way. Even on the last shot it wasn't necessarily a designed play, but Tanner made a nice shot."
Shad Watson sunk seven 3-pointers to lead BYU-Hawaii (4-10, 2-6 PacWest) with 26 points. Nelson contributed 23 points the day before his 23rd birthday, including the game winner. Caeleb Roney added a double-double of 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Joey Schreiber led Azusa Pacific (8-9, 3-4 PacWest) with 27 points off five 3-point jumpers. Four other Cougars finished with double digit scoring and Austin Dyer was the leading rebounder with nine.
The Seasiders shot 42.9 percent from the field and 44 percent from behind the arc, while Azusa Pacific hit 43.1 percent on field goals and 45.2 percent from 3-point range. The Cougars outrebounded BYU-Hawaii 39-34. The Seasiders finished with three blocks and nine steals.
Azusa Pacific held a small lead in the final minutes, but were unable to extend it past four in the final minutes. Bailey Kikuchi drew a foul and hit both free throws to close the gap to two with under a minute to play. The Seasiders then played strong defense and Petar Kutlesic's desperation 3-pointer to beat the shot clock was short. Nelson grabbed the rebound and connected on the 25-footer from the right elbow to give BYU-Hawaii the 80-79 edge with 13 seconds in the game. Connor Peterson found a lane to the basket, but his layup was long and Roney was able to win the battle for the rebound for the Seasiders.
The Cougars started the game with 11 answered points including a 3-pointer by Petar Kutlesic and two threes from Will Ferris. Roney put the Seasiders on the board with two jumpers to make it 11-4 with 14 minutes until the half, but Azusa Pacific scored the next five points to maintain their double-digit lead.
BYU-Hawaii answered with a 9-0 run highlighted by a three from Watson to close the deficit to 19-16 with 6:42 in the half. The teams traded 3-pointers and kept the score close, but the Cougars held their 36-27 advantage at the break.
Corey Langerveld hit back-to-back threes to extend Azusa Pacific's lead back to double figures at 42-31 two minutes out of the half, but Watson scored six points to power a 10-0 run for the Seasiders to put them back in the game at 42-41 at the first media timeout. Watson then hit a 3-pointer with 11:40 on the clock to give BYU-Hawaii their first lead of the game at 50-48.
The Cougars retaliated with a 6-0 streak to regain the lead and Watson traded threes with Azusa Pacific to stay on their heels. Another 6-point run by the Cougars put them up 69-59, but the Seasiders answered with an 11-2 run featuring 3-pointers by Bailey Kikuchi and Watson to make it 71-70 with four minutes to play.
BYU-Hawaii returns to the court next Saturday to play Hawaii Hilo at 7:30 p.m. HST. Live stats, audio and video will be available online.