BYU Wins MWC Title, NCAA Tournament Berth | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

BYU Wins MWC Title, NCAA Tournament Berth

LAS -- Trent Whiting nailed two clutch free throws with 4.6 seconds remaining to seal a 69-65 victory over New Mexico and BYU's first Mountain West Conference Tournament Championship on Saturday.

In a tightly contested championship game, tournament and league MVP Mekeli Wesley was the workhorse for the Cougars. Wesley hit key shot after key shot for the Cougars as the lobos didn't have an answer for 6-9 senior as he shot a nearly perfect 11-12 from the field and led the Cougars with 30 points.

"Mekeli is the best player in the league and he showed that today," said New Mexico forward Brian Smith, who drew the assignment of guarding Wesley most of the night.

The Cougars led almost the entire contest, but New Mexico would never let them pull away. The Lobos owned the boards, especially on the offensive glass holding a 19-3 advantage and scoring many of their points off second chances.

But BYU's big three were for the third straight night BIG. While Wesley was scoring Terrell Lyday was defending and Whiting was hitting big threes and rebounding. Lyday guarded New Mexico's elusive point guard Marlon Parmer and limited him to 0-4 shooting in the first half. Parmer finished with only 14 on the night.

"I told Terrell that he wasn't going to score 26 points tonight, but his main responsibility would be to defend," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said. "He made a huge defensive stop on Parmer's last shot."

With BYU leading by only two with under 10 seconds to play Parmer hoisted a three pointer to try and win the game, but Lyday was right in his face and Parmer's attempt went long. Whiting rose high for his third rebound and was fouled. Besides his key free throws, Whiting also made a couple big three pointers to key the Cougar victory.

"Those two three's Trent hit (the first to end the half and the other with 2 minutes to play) were as big a shots as he has hit for us all year," Cleveland said.

Despite the efforts of BYU's talent trio, New Mexico fought hard. When Marlon Parmer drained a three pointer to cut BYU's lead to just one it looked liked the Lobos would have a chance to pull off the upset victory. Wesley was fouled but converted on only one of two free throws. But when Parmer drew iron and Whiting was fouled on the rebound, the Cougars smelled victory. After Whiting's free throw put BYU up four, New Mexico's three point attempt went long and the Cougars celebration at midcourt began.

"It feels like everything you put forth in the preseason and all season long was worth it," All-MWC Tournament team member Lyday said. "It's a feeling that not everybody can experience. Its a great feeling."

With the victory BYU advances to its first NCAA Tournament since 1995. They have made 18 total NCAA appearances with an 11-21 record. Their best finish came in 1981 when they advanced to the Elite Eight before falling to Virginia 74-60.

"We definitely want to win some games (In the NCAA tournament)," Wesley said. "We feel confident and want the momentum from today to carry us through the NCAAs."

Official Basketball Box Score -- GAME TOTALS -- FINAL STATISTICS

University of New Mexico vs BYU

03/10/01 7:00 PM at Las Vegas, Nevada

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VISITORS: University of New Mexico 19-12, 6-8 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN

04 WHITE, Wayland...... f 5-9 0-0 1-2 1 2 3 5 11 2 2 3 2 28

21 SMITH, Brian........ f 2-4 0-0 4-4 2 3 5 3 8 0 0 0 0 27

02 PARMER, Marlon...... g 4-11 3-6 3-3 1 0 1 1 14 4 3 0 1 31

05 DOUGLAS, Ruben...... g 4-13 3-9 3-4 2 3 5 4 14 2 2 0 0 32

42 CHATFIELD, Eric..... g 2-8 0-2 1-4 4 3 7 2 5 0 2 0 1 36

10 LIGHTFOOT, Tim...... 3-6 1-3 0-0 0 1 1 1 7 0 3 0 0 16

22 BROUSSARD, Alvin.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

31 JOHNSON, Isaiah Zeke 1-2 0-1 0-1 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 4

33 DENNEHY, Patrick.... 2-5 0-0 0-0 6 4 10 3 4 1 1 0 0 24

TEAM................ 1 1

Totals.............. 23-58 7-21 12-18 19 17 36 19 65 9 13 3 4 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-30 .367 2nd Half: 12-28 .429 Game: .397 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-11 .273 2nd Half: 4-10 .400 Game: .333 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 2-5 .400 2nd Half: 10-13 .769 Game: .667 2

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HOME TEAM: BYU 24-8, 10-4 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

## Player Name FG-FGA FG-FGA FT-FTA OF DE TOT PF TP A TO BLK S MIN

15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... f 11-12 1-2 7-8 0 8 8 4 30 1 2 0 1 34

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 2-4 0-1 3-4 0 2 2 5 7 0 1 1 0 31

21 WHITING, Trent...... g 5-12 3-5 2-2 0 3 3 1 15 3 3 1 1 39

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 4-9 1-2 2-2 1 2 3 4 11 5 4 1 0 37

31 MONTAGUE,Matt....... g 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 4 2 0 1 16

01 KNIGHT, Nate........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 0 1 0 0 13

02 HANSEN, Travis...... 1-3 0-0 1-1 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 2 14

42 COOPER, Nathan...... 1-1 1-1 0-0 1 0 1 0 3 1 1 0 1 16

TEAM................ 1 2 3

Totals.............. 24-42 6-11 15-17 3 20 23 17 69 14 14 3 6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-25 .520 2nd Half: 11-17 .647 Game: .571 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-7 .571 2nd Half: 2-4 .500 Game: .545 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 3-3 1.000 2nd Half: 12-14 .857 Game: .882 0

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Officials: David Hall, Mark Reischling, Lonnie Dixon

Technical fouls: University of New Mexico-None. BYU-None.

Attendance:

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

University of New Mexico...... 27 38 - 65

BYU........................... 33 36 - 69