ANCHORAGE, AK - Senior Blake Hamilton scored a career-high 36 points on Wednesday night, including 29 in the second half, leading the Bulls to an 85-79 win over the host Alaska-Anchorage in the first round of the Great Alaska Shootout. With the win, UB advances to Friday's semifinals.
The Bulls had to overcome a 20-0 discrepancy from the free throw line in the first half, but UB was still able to jump out to a 35-27 lead late in the half after a three pointer from Hamilton. The Seawolves would score the final six points of the half though as UB took just a 35-33 advantage into the break.
Hamilton caught fire in the second half as the Bulls went ahead 41-37 early before Alaska-Anchorage went ahead on a four-point play to take a 46-43 lead with 14:14 left. UB then answered on a 7-0 run and never trailed again, capped off on a three-point play from sophomore Nick Perkins. Another three-point play from senior Willie Conner extended the Buffalo lead to 57-49 with 10:24 left, but the Seawolves pulled back within three at 59-56. With the Bulls leading 64-58, Hamilton scored five straight points, giving the Bulls a 69-58 lead as UAA called time out with 6:28 left.
The Seawolves did not go down quietly though as they made one last run with UB ahead 75-66 with 2:49 left. A pair of free throws pulled them within three at 76-73 with just 49 seconds left, but Hamilton hit his final nine free throws of the night to seal the win for the Bulls.
The 36 points on the night for Hamilton were a career-best and tied for 10th in school history for points in a game. It was also tied for the eighth most points scored in a single game in Great Alaska Shootout history. He also added a team-high eight rebounds on the night.
Perkins finished with 14 points and seven rebounds, while Conner added 12 points, five assists and a block.
The trio of Ikenna Smart, David Kadiri, and Raheem Johnson were effective down low as they went 6-of-10 from the floor combined. Freshman Davonta Jordan finished the night with a team-best six assists off the bench and just one turnover. As a team, UB went 15-of-17 from the free throw line and the Bulls shot 50.0%.
Alaska Anchorage, who has beaten a Division I team in 31 of the 38 years of the Great Alaska Shootout, was led by 17 points from Diante Mitchell.
UB will now have off on Thanksgiving Day before it faces the winner of Nevada/Oakland in the semifinals of the Great Alaska Shootout on Friday. The game will tip off at 5:30 pm local time and 9:30 pm EST. It will air nationally on CBS Sports Network on tape delay at midnight EST.