ANCHORAGE – Junior swingman Tyler Brimhall scored 27 points and grabbed eight rebounds Saturday to help Alaska Anchorage fend off Antelope Valley for a 73-65 men’s basketball victory at the Alaska Airlines Center.
The NCAA Div. II Seawolves (2-0) also got 14 points – all in the final eight minutes – from junior forward Niko Bevens as they beat their NAIA Div. I opponents for the second day in a row.
The Pioneers (0-3) were led by 19 points on 8-of-14 shooting from forward Christian Drayton, but the rest of his teammates shot just 14 of 37 from the field. The defending Cal Pac Conference champions also got 14 points from reserve guard Brandon Wade and nine assists from Miles Nolen-Webb.
“That was another good learning experience for us today,” said UAA head coach Rusty Osborne, whose team returns just four players from last season and features one senior in its regular rotation. “Everyone is getting a chance to contribute and show the coaching staff what they can do.”
Unlike when UAA led start to finish in Friday’s 82-73 victory, Saturday’s first half featured five ties and five lead changes. After Antelope Valley took an 18-16 edge, the Seawolves took over for good with a 7-0 run, keyed by a three-point play by Brimhall.
UAA led 36-29 at halftime and never saw its advantage dip below six points. Pioneers center Deividas Mockaitis made two free throws to cut the score to 55-49 at the 7:53 mark, but Bevens suddenly heated up, swishing his first three-pointer 23 seconds later.
A transfer from Div. I mid-major power Montana, Bevens shot 4 of 4 from the field in the final five minutes to help seal the victory.
UAA won despite being outrebounded 30-27, taking advantage of a 20-10 edge in points off turnovers. Sophomore guard Keenan Dowell swiped three of UAA’s 11 steals, and the hosts committed only 20 turnovers against Antelope Valley’s full-court press.
Brimhall – a transfer from North Idaho College – shot 7 of 15 from the floor and made all nine of his free throws. Dowell added seven points, sophomore guard Brennan Rymer had four points and five assists, and Jack Macdonald and Brian Pearson tallied six points apiece for UAA.
The Seawolves head south next week for three games, beginning with a Tuesday (6 p.m. AST) exhibition game at Div. I Fresno State. UAA will get its first taste of D-II competition against longtime West Region rivals Hawaii Pacific and Chaminade, Nov. 9-10 in Honolulu. Check the men’s basketball schedule page at GoSeawolves.com for live links to follow each contest.
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