Nothing like a trip to the tropics to give a shooter a hot hand.
Red-hot shooting in the first half by Niko Bevens ignited the whole UAA men's basketball team Friday in an 83-79 nonconference win over Hawaii Pacific in Honolulu.
Bevens, a 6-foot-6 junior transfer from Division I Montana, tied a school record by draining seven 3-pointers in the first half on his way to a game-high 28 points. He and the rest of the Seawolves shot a combined 56.6 percent against the Sharks, a Division II team that plays in the Pac West Conference.
Bevens scored 25 points in the first half, hitting seven of 11 shots from long range to tie the UAA record for most 3-pointers in a single half. His effort equaled the seven treys Casey Robinson hit in a single half against Western Oregon in January 2011.
Bevens' hot hand kept UAA in the game during the first 20 minutes, when leading scorer Tyler Brimhall spent considerable time on the bench with two early fouls. Hawaii Pacific shot 51.6 percent to grab a 45-38 halftime lead.
UAA rallied in the second half by shooting a sizzling 65.4 percent (17 of 26). Four players reached double figures — Bevens, who shot 9 of 15; Brian Pearson, who was 5 of 6 for 10 points; Jack Macdonald was 6 of 11 en route to 15 points; and Brimhall, who racked up 11 points and seven rebounds in 17 minutes.
For the game, Bevens was 8 of 13 from 3-point range, four short of UAA's single-game record of 12, set in 2014 by Kyle Fossman.
The victory was UAA's third in as many games this season, but the first against another Division II team. Its first two games were comfortable wins over NAIA Antelope Valley.
"This was a very good win for us against a disciplined and well coached HPU team," UAA coach Rusty Osborne said in a release from the school. "I was pleased how we persevered through some self-afflicted adversity. Niko was outstanding and carried us in the first half with Tyler out and Jack struggling. Erik Jenkins did a great job of filling in and playing with a ton of heart."
Pearson scored two straight baskets to help the Seawolves take the lead for good with nearly nine minutes remaining in the game.
UAA led by as much as 80-72 before the Sharks made a late-game push to cut the lead to three, 80-77. The Seawolves answered with a bucket by Pearson to go up by five points with 15 seconds left.
"After struggling to execute, we were able to come up with a big basket out of our timeout late in the game," Osborne said. "We made some mistakes today but also made some big plays as well."
The Sharks (0-1) were led by 21 points from Jonathan Janssen, the Pac West preseason player of the year.
Pearson's eight rebounds were the most by anyone. Brennan Rymer added a game-high five assists for the Seawolves, who stay in Hawaii for a Saturday afternoon game against Chaminade.