The University of Alaska Fairbanks men’s basketball team snapped a four-game GNAC losing streak Saturday, posting a 75-73 win over Western Washington University at the Alaska Airlines Gymnasium.
The Nanooks (7-8 overall, 2-5 GNAC) led for all but 3½ minutes and never trailed by more than three points throughout the night in a consistently close game. The Vikings’ last lead came with 17:32 to play, and UAF eventually led by as many as 11 points – 65-54 with 7:19 to play.
Shooting 46 percent and outrebounding the Vikings 23-13 – including nine on the offensive end that led to 11 second-chance points – would normally be enough to build a first-half lead. But Western Washington knocked down six 3-pointers out of 13 attempted from behind the arc to build a 36-35 lead.
Coming out of the intermission, Jaycson Bereal Jr. eventually put UAF back on top with a thunderous dunk. Buckets by Tyler Mrus and Jordan Kanoe – combined with 12 of 31 shooting by the Vikings in the second half – enabled the Nanooks to take a five-point lead into the final 10 minutes of play.
While Mrus led the way with 13 points, a trio of Nanooks – Abdullahi Mohamed, Bereal and Kanoe – each finished with 12 points apiece. Nick Hopkins added 10 points in 14 minutes, and Bryan Nguyen had five points, five rebounds and five assists.
Kai Johnson led Western Washington (10-7, 3-4) with 14 points, while former UAF and West Valley High School standout Daniel Hornbuckle had 12 points in his last game in Fairbanks.
The Nanooks will be on the road this week, taking on Saint Martin’s in Lacey, Wash., on Thursday and Western Oregon in Monmouth on Saturday.