On a night when Oggie Pantovic turned in one of his biggest games of the season for the Seawolves, the junior forward hit his biggest shot with 20 seconds left in overtime to carry the UAA men’s basketball team to a much-needed victory.
Pantovic nailed a 3-pointer to break a tie and provide the winning points in a 90-89 win over Northwest Nazarene at the Alaska Airlines Center. A 6-foot-7 transfer in his first season with the team, Pantovic chalked up his seventh double-double of the season with 26 points and a career-high 15 rebounds.
The win snapped a three-game losing streak for the Seawolves and kept them in the playoff hunt in the Great Northwest Athletic Conference.
The top six teams at the end of the regular season will play in the GNAC tournament, and the win keeps UAA in a sixth-place tie with Central Washington. Central Washington won Thursday in Fairbanks and will bring a five-game wining streak to Anchorage for a Saturday game against the Seawolves.
UAA and Central Washington are both 8-7 in conference play. Four teams are tied for second place with 9-6 records, including Northwest Nazarene and UAF. Seattle Pacific is 15-1 and has clinched the GNAC regular season title.
The Seawolves (15-11 overall) trailed 52-40 at the half and was behind for most of the game.
“We played poorly in the first half, especially on the defensive end, but I thought our guys made some nice adjustments after the break that allowed us a chance to get back in it,” UAA coach Rusty Osborne said in a release from the school. “In the second half, we played with a lot more poise and our shooters made the kind of big shots in crucial situations that you have to make to be a winning ballclub.”
One of those big shots came midway through the second half when Niko Bevens hit a jumper to give UAA a 72-71 lead, its first since the five-minute mark of the first half.
Northwest Nazarene (12-8 overall) regained control with a 9-0 run. A bucket by Pantovic made it a two-possession game with a little more than four minutes left, and the Nighthawks held onto their lead until UAA senior guard Tyrus Hosley sank two free throws twith six seconds left in regulation, tying the game 83-83 and forcing the five-minute overtime.
NNU twice led in the extra period, but each time UAA answered, once with a dunk by Pantovic and once with a pair of free throws by Hosley.
With 20 seconds left, Pantovic drained a 3-pointer for the game’s final points.
Pantovic connected on 11 of 16 shots from the field and was one of five Seawolves who reached double figures. Hosley supplied a double-double with 13 points and 11 assists, Tobin Karlberg scored 14 points, Jack Macdonald 13 and Bevens 10. Macdonald added six assists and five rebounds.
Northwest Nazarene had four players in double figures, including Jayden Bezzant (25 points on 10-of-18 shooting plus seven assists) and Olamilekan Adetunji (14 points, 11 rebounds).
UAA outscored the Nighthawks 42-30 from 3-point range, hitting 14 triples on 31 attempts. Karlberg was 4 of 6, Macdonald was 3 of 6 and Pantovic and Bevens were both 2 of 4.