ANCHORAGE – Tanner Nelson had a career night, but BYU-Hawaii men's basketball dropped a 71-68 game in the final minute to Alaska Fairbanks Saturday at the Alaska Airlines Center.
Nelson recorded a career-high 35 points, while Denhym Brooke contributed a double-double of 13 points and 17 rebounds for the Seasiders (0-3).
Zach Pederson led the Nanooks (2-3) with 15 points, followed by Banagaly Kaba with 14. Nahjee Matlock and Brandon Davis also finished in double digits.
BYU-Hawaii shot 29.2 percent from 3-point range and 80.8 percent from the charity stripe, while Alaska Fairbanks ended with 21.7 and 75, respectively. The teams proved about equal in rebounds and assists, but the Nanooks capitalized on the 19 turnovers by the Seasiders to score 16 points.
Trailing by nine late in the game, Davis sunk a shot from behind the arc to ignite a 10-2 Alaska run to close the gap to 64-63 with 2:04 in the game. The Nanooks took their first lead of the second half with 44 seconds left after Matlock recorded four points to make it 69-65. Three Seasider free throws weren't enough as Alaska Fairbanks finished it off with two of their own and Bailey Kikuchi's desperation heave was too strong.
After a 5-0 run by Alaska Fairbanks to begin the game, Jeff Given grabbed his first steal and passed it to Brooke who threw down his first dunk of the night to tie the game at 7. Pederson sparked a 10-3 run to give the Nanooks their largest lead of the game at 17-10 before Nelson led the Seasiders on a 7-point streak to tie it again with 10 minutes remaining.
A 10-2 run featuring Brooke sinking four shots from the charity stripe put BYU-Hawaii up 27-23 before an 8-point stretch extended their lead 35-26 with 3:38 on the clock. Nelson tallied the final four points of the half, sending the Seasiders into the break with a 39-30 advantage.
Alaska Fairbanks started the second half with a 7-1 run to close the deficit to 40-37 with 17:52 to go, but BYU-Hawaii answered quickly with a 12-2 run highlighted by 3-point jumpers from Nelson and Given and another Brooke dunk to pull ahead 52-39 for the largest lead of the game with 12 minutes left. The Nanooks showed they were still in the game as they responded with three consecutive layups, but Brooke's third dunk kept BYU-Hawaii alive 59-47 with 9:18 remaining.
BYU-Hawaii will return home to play Oakland City on Tuesday at 7:30 p.m. HST. Live stats and audio will be available online and the game will be broadcast on BYUtv.