The BYU-Hawaii men’s basketball opened the regular season with a 73-64 loss in their home opener versus the University of Alaska Fairbanks Nanoonks on Monday, Nov. 14 in the CAC.
“We came out and started off with some bad turnovers,” said Bailey Kikuchi, point guard and a sophomore hospitality and tourism management major from California. “We just need to work on collectively coming together and being ready to play.”
Kikuchi scored 17 points and handed out five assists, leading the Seasiders in both categories. Seasider Forwards Jeff Given and Caeleb Roney both led the team in rebounding, each securing 10 boards.
The Nanooks were led in scoring by LaDonavan Wilder, who had 15 points on a 7 of 13 shooting night. While both teams had similar shooting percentages, Alaska was able to gain an advantage taking ten more total shots than the Seasiders.
The Nanoonks were also able to win the turnover battle, forcing 19 Seasider turnovers against their own 12. The Nanoonks only had nine steals for the night, with the Seasiders being responsible for most of their own turnovers.
The game started out with sloppy play from both teams, but the Nanoonks built an 18 point lead before going in to halftime.
The Seasiders came out from halftime inspired and rallied by Kikuchi’s four three-point shots. After missing his only attempt for a three-pointer in the first half, Kikuchi made all four of his attempts in the second half, helping the Seasiders pull within four points after outscoring the Nanoonks 31-17 to that point in the half.
Kam West, a junior from Wyoming majoring in exercise science. “The second half was fun, there was lots of good energy. Everyone was screaming and jumping up and down. The boys made lots of good plays. I feel like we started off a little slow but in the second half we got a lot better.”
The momentum ran out shortly after. Alaska Fairbanks began to be more aggressive, forcing the Seasiders into shooting fouls, sending the Nanoonks to the charity stripe to shoot free throws. The Seasiders continued to compete but were unable to get back within striking distance to the disappointment of the home crowd of 543 Seasider fans.
BYUH Athletic Director Brad Jones said, “We were happy with the crowd tonight. We will be doing some more promoting and prizes to get the students out for the games later this season.”