Cougars Corral Cowboys at MWC Tournament

Senior point guard Luiz Lemes scored a team-high 18 points to continue his strong play in BYU's win over Wyoming Thursday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

DENVER -- BYU got one step closer to the Mountain West Conference title with a 79-75 win over the No. 7-seed Wyoming Cowboys in only the second postseason meeting between the two longtime rivals.

With the victory the Cougars improve to 4-1 in MWC Quarterfinal games, extend their current winning streak to nine straight games and also get one step closer to ensuring themselves a bid into the NCAA Tournament.

"It was another great college game," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "I think we can make a really good case that we belong (in the NCAA Tournament) but the best way to make that case is just to keep winning."

And winning is what BYU has done, improving their overall record to 21-7, while the Cowboys finish their season at 11-17.

"There were several people for us that stepped up, probably none bigger than Luiz (Lemes) in making some big baskets," said Cleveland.

Leading the Cougars in scoring was senior point guard Lemes, who turned in a team-high 18 points and three assists in 37 minutes of play.

Other Cougars who stepped up were seniors Rafael Araujo and Mark Bigelow along with junior Mike Hall who had great performances with all three Cougars scoring in double digits in the afternoon game.

In the game, both Bigelow and Hall had 13 points while Araujo recorded his 15th double-double of the season with 17 points on 6-of-10 shooting and 14 boards, his second highest rebound total of the season and second highest in MWC Tournament history and most ever by a senior.

In the first half, the Cougars fell behind 6-7 but it didn't last long as the Cougars mounted a 12-3 run to pull ahead of the Cowboys for the rest of the game.

Araujo, Bigelow and Shoff each chipped in eight points in the half for BYU, teaming up for 24 of the Cougars' 32 points.

The highlight of the half came as Araujo blocked a Wyoming shot, gathered the ball, passed it out to senior guard Kevin Woodberry who found Bigelow streaking down the sideline and hit him with an outlet pass for a wide open two-handed jam that brought the Cougar fans to their feet.

Shoff then reeled off six straight points for the Cougars to go up 26-18 with under five minutes left in the half. BYU went on to close out the half with a pair of free throws by junior forward Jared Jensen, up 32-27 going into the break.

The Cougars came out strong in the early going of the second half, putting up five unanswered points to go up by 10.

Wyoming answered back with a 6-0 run of their own, including back-to-back steals and layups by David Adams to pull within four at 39-35.

BYU fought to get some breathing room, pushing its lead to 12, the largest of the game, at 52-40 behind three-point baskets by Lemes and Hall.

With 6:13 left in the game, senior forward Jake Shoff and Wyoming's David Rottinghaus were called for a double foul as the two fell to the floor away from the ball. The foul sent Shoff to the bench with his fifth foul.

Wyoming instituted a full-court press through most of the half in an effort to force the Cougars to turn the ball over, but BYU was able to beat the press each time.

"It was hard because we've never had that before," said Lemes, "There were 6-9, 6-10 guys against me, a 6-3 guard. That was pretty tough but our guys did a good job against the press."

The Cowboys managed to chip away at the Cougars' lead through the next five minutes, closing the margin to four points with less than two minutes to go in the game at 70-66.

Free throws became key for the Cougars' down the stretch as the Cougars hit seven of eight shots from the line in the closing minute where they did not score a field goal.

With less than 20 seconds to play, it was Woodberry's defensive play on Wyoming's Jay Straight that sealed the victory as Woodberry blocked Straight's three-point attempt, grabbed the ball and dribbled out the clock for the 79-75 win.

BYU now will face Utah, the No. 3 seed in the tournament, in a game that can be seen live on ESPN+Plus (KJZZ-TV in Salt Lake City), Friday at 7:00 p.m. (MDT) in the semifinal round of the MWC Tournament.

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

Wyoming vs Brigham Young

03-11-04 3:30 p.m. at Denver, Colo. (Pepsi Center)

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VISITORS: Wyoming 11-17 (4-10 MWC)

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

25 RIES, Joe........... f 2-5 0-0 4-5 1 4 5 3 8 0 2 0 1 28

13 DUNN, Alex.......... c 2-6 0-0 2-2 2 6 8 4 6 0 3 0 1 26

03 STRAIGHT, Jay....... g 5-13 1-5 0-0 1 3 4 4 11 8 3 0 3 33

04 SHERRELL, Dion...... g 5-10 0-3 0-0 0 3 3 3 10 0 5 0 0 23

24 WATSON, Mikel....... g 5-11 2-4 9-10 3 0 3 3 21 1 0 0 2 37

00 MAKUN, Omoniyi...... 2-2 0-0 0-1 0 3 3 5 4 0 0 0 1 18

02 WEBB, Jerry......... 0-1 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 4

20 ROTTINGHAUS, David.. 2-4 0-2 2-2 0 1 1 4 6 1 1 0 1 10

23 ADAMS, David........ 3-5 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 3 6 0 1 0 1 18

31 CORREA, Mory........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

32 WILDENBORG, Ryan.... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 1

TEAM................ 3 3

Totals.............. 26-58 3-15 19-22 10 23 33 30 74 11 15 0 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 8-26 30.8% 2nd Half: 18-32 56.3% Game: 44.8% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 1-8 12.5% 2nd Half: 2-7 28.6% Game: 20.0% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 10-12 83.3% 2nd Half: 9-10 90.0% Game: 86.4% 0

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HOME TEAM: Brigham Young 21-7 (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

03 BIGELOW, Mark....... f 4-12 0-6 5-6 1 4 5 2 13 2 3 0 0 34

41 MEADS, Garner....... f 2-3 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 3 4 0 0 0 1 17

55 ARAUJO, Rafael...... c 6-10 0-0 5-7 4 10 14 3 17 1 4 1 2 32

01 HALL, Mike.......... g 3-10 1-4 6-8 2 2 4 2 13 2 0 0 2 33

04 LEMES, Luiz......... g 6-10 1-1 5-6 0 1 1 4 18 3 3 0 1 37

00 WOODBERRY, Kevin.... 0-2 0-2 2-2 0 2 2 2 2 2 1 1 1 25

05 SHOFF, Jake......... 4-5 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 5 8 1 1 0 0 10

52 JENSEN, Jared....... 0-1 0-0 4-6 0 3 3 2 4 0 0 1 0 12

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

Totals.............. 25-53 2-13 27-35 9 25 34 23 79 11 12 3 7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-32 40.6% 2nd Half: 12-21 57.1% Game: 47.2% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 0-8 0.0% 2nd Half: 2-5 40.0% Game: 15.4% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 6-7 85.7% 2nd Half: 21-28 75.0% Game: 77.1% 4

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Officials: Bob Staffen, Tim Gabutero, Mike Giarratano

Technical fouls: Wyoming-None. Brigham Young-None.

Attendance: 7328

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Wyoming....................... 27 47 - 74

Brigham Young................. 32 47 - 79

ID-253584

Mountain West Conference Tournament Quarterfinal Game

Points in the paint-WY 38,BY 30. Points off turnovers-WY 13,BY 20.

2nd chance points-WY 14,BY 12. Fast break points-WY 4,BY 10.

Bench points-WY 18,BY 14. Score tied-2 times. Lead changes-3 times.

Tags: Results