FAIRBANKS—Balanced scoring and a suffocating defense in the second half enabled the Alaska men’s basketball team to roll up a 77-54 victory against Oklahoma Panhandle State on the second day of the 2012 GCI Alaska Invitational at the Patty Center.
The Nanooks put themselves in the driver’s seat to claim the tournament title.
Alaska goes up against Colorado Christian in the final game of the three-day, round-robin tournament at 5:15 tonight at the Patty Center.
The Nanooks are the only undefeated team in the tournament with a 2-0 record.
Cal State Monterey Bay and Colorado Christian both have 1-1 records after Monterey Bay raced to a 78-58 victory against Colorado Christian in Friday’s first game.
Oklahoma Panhandle is 0-2.
A win by the Nanooks tonight would give them the title for the first time in school history. A loss would put the title up for grabs, depending on the outcome of the Cal State Monterey Bay and Oklahoma Panhandle contest set for 3 p.m. today.
The Nanooks, 3-1 on the year, only loss came against Colorado Christian (72-63) a week ago at the AT&T Alascom Jamboree in Anchorage.
After crafting a 33-26 halftime lead, the Nanooks dominated the second half, outscoring the Aggies 44-28. Alaska built its lead to 31 points, 75-44, with 5:39 remaining and only scored two points the rest of the way.
The Nanooks had five players score in double figures and outrebounded the visitors from Oklahoma by a 47-29 margin. Alaska also had its best shooting night of the season, knocking down 57.6 percent of its shots in the second half and finishing the game at a 47.8 percent clip.
Senior guard Dominique Brinson, who had a tough shooting night in Alaska’s 80-73 win against Monterey Bay Thursday night, was back on the mark Friday, leading the Nanooks with 14 points, three assists and a steal.
Brinson was 5 for 8 from the field and 3 for 6 from beyond the 3-point arc.
Guard Pat Veout added 13 points, four assists and three steals to the Nanooks winning effort. He had a 6 for 9 shooting effort.
Sergej Pucar was 5 for 8 from the field and had 12 points, five rebounds, three assists and two steals.
Zach Ngawaka and Andrew Kelly added 10 points apiece for the Alaska. Kelly grabbed a game-high nine rebounds to go along with three steals and a blocked shot. Ngawaka had six rebounds, two blocked shots and a steal.
The Nanooks registered 15 steals and five blocked shots in the game.
Bill Lee led Oklahoma Panhandle State with 15 points and Damar Hill knocked won 11 in a losing cause. Brandon Caruthers had a team highs of five rebounds, three assists. T.J. Farrell had three steals for the Aggies.
Cal State Monterey Bay broke open a tight game with a 15-0 run to start the second to secure its first tournament victory in Friday afternoon.
Monterey Bay, which lost to Alaska 80-73 Thursday night, shot an amazing 70.8 percent (17 for 24) from the field in the second half as the Otters outscored the Cougars 48-34 in the final 20 minutes to win going away.
Alex Fertig scored 16 of his tournament high 24 points in the first half to help the Otters take a 30-24 lead at the break. Everyone contributed to the second-half romp.
Fertig was 9 for 15 from the field and 5 for 5 from the foul line in leading Monterey Bay. Derrick Anderson, who was 5 for 6 from the field, was the only other Otter in double figures with 14 points.
Eleven of the 12 players in the Monterey Bay team at least a point.
Kris Gallop collected a game-high nine rebounds for the winners, while Brandon Ward contributed four assists and Gallop had a pair of steals.
Josh McBeth was the only Colorado Christian player in double figures with 11 points, including a 3 for 4 effort from 3-point range. Lance Vesper led the Cougars with seven rebounds and Avery Desmond dished out 11 assists.
Contact the News-Miner sports department at 459-7581.