Cougars End Season with Victory

Jimmy Balderson led BYU in scoring (21) and rebounding (8) in BYU's 76-68 victory over New Mexico. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- On a night set apart to honor arguably BYU's best foreign-born player, Kresimir Cosic, it was Canadian Jimmy Balderson who came up big, leading the Cougars to a 76-68 win over New Mexico in front of a season-high crowd of 20,732.

Balderson led the Cougars (20-7, 12-4 MWC) with 21 points on 6-for-8 shooting from the field, 7-for-7 shooting from the foul line and a career-high eight rebounds. Brock Reichner scored 11 for BYU and led the Cougars with four assists in his senior night game.

"Jimmy was terrific," BYU head coach Dave Rose said. "He hit some big shots for us tonight."

BYU--picked to finish last in the preseason media poll--secured a second-place tie with Air Force with the victory. The win is the sixth straight for the Cougars and their 14th in a row at home. BYU has also won 10 of its last 11 games to finish the regular season.

"I give a lot of credit to our guys," Rose said. "They took their best shot, hung in there and kept their composure."

The first ten minutes of the game included a flurry of three pointers. Jeff Hart nailed three shots from behind the arc in less than three minutes. The Lobos (17-12, 8-8 MWC) hit 64 percent of their shots in the early part of the game to build a 21-11 lead with 10:37 remaining in the first half.

The Cougars followed with an 11-5 run capped by a Lee Cummard three ball to cut the lead to 26-22 with 7:16 left.

Defense tightened as the first half wound down, and the two teams played physical back-and-forth basketball with New Mexico maintaining a 34-33 halftime lead.

The physical play continued into the second half with BYU taking its first lead at the 16:13 mark when Balderson nailed a three. But the Cougars' first lead of the game was short-lived as Hart nailed a three on the Lobos next possession.

BYU bounced right back, going on an 8-0 run to give the Cougars a 49-42 lead. New Mexico countered with a 5-0 run of its own to keep the game a one-possession contest.

Balderson's three-point play gave BYU a one-point lead but was answered by a Kellen Walter three-pointer as the Lobos held to a 62-60 lead with 3:47 left in the game.

But the Marriott Center magic prevailed down the stretch as the Cougars went on a 14-0 run over the last four minutes of the game. Balderson and Rashaun Broadus showed that ice runs through their veins in pressure situations as they combined for eight consecutive foul shots.

BYU's stifling defense held New Mexico scoreless from the 4:29 mark until Chad Toppert hit a desperation three with 22 seconds remaining.

The Cougars will get another shot at rival Utah as the two teams will play in the first round of the MWC Tournament Thursday at 10 p.m. (MST) in Denver, Colo.

"This is the way games are supposed to be played in March," Rose said.

Click here to read about Kresimir Cosic's jersey retirement ceremony

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

New Mexico Lobos vs BYU Cougars

3-4-06 7:07 p.m. at Marriott Center, Provo, Utah

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VISITORS: New Mexico Lobos 17-12, 8-8 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

13 CHIOTTI, David...... f 3-13 0-1 0-5 1 6 7 2 6 4 2 1 1 30

25 HARDEN, Blake....... f 2-3 1-1 0-0 0 2 2 3 5 1 1 0 1 20

54 BOX, Joel........... c 4-6 0-2 0-0 0 3 3 1 8 1 0 0 0 21

05 WALTERS, Mark....... g 5-8 1-3 2-2 1 0 1 5 13 4 7 0 1 35

22 HART, Jeff.......... g 5-9 5-9 0-0 0 1 1 3 15 1 0 0 1 35

01 WALTER, Kellen...... 3-4 3-4 0-0 0 2 2 2 9 0 0 0 0 11

03 COLLINS, Kris....... 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 0 0 3 3 1 1 19

24 PRENTICE, Darren.... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

32 DANRIDGE, Tony...... 2-4 0-0 3-4 1 1 2 3 7 1 1 0 0 23

33 TOPPERT, Chad....... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0+

53 FARIS, Daniel....... 1-1 0-0 0-1 0 0 0 3 2 0 0 0 2 5

TEAM................ 2 3 5

Totals.............. 26-51 11-21 5-12 6 20 26 22 68 15 14 2 7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-21 66.7% 2nd Half: 12-30 40.0% Game: 51.0% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-7 42.9% 2nd Half: 8-14 57.1% Game: 52.4% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 3-10 30.0% 2nd Half: 2-2 100 % Game: 41.7% 3

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HOME TEAM: BYU Cougars 20-7, 12-4 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 YOUNG, Keena........ f 5-12 0-0 3-5 3 2 5 1 13 1 1 0 1 33

44 PLAISTED, Trent..... c 3-8 0-0 4-5 1 3 4 4 10 1 2 1 1 27

01 BROADUS, Rashaun.... g 3-7 0-2 6-6 0 1 1 1 12 0 2 0 3 32

04 EMERY, Jackson...... g 1-2 1-2 1-2 1 2 3 0 4 0 0 0 0 10

11 REICHNER, Brock..... g 5-12 1-5 0-0 1 3 4 1 11 4 1 0 0 30

13 AINGE, Austin....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 2 0 1 9

15 MALAMAN, Fernando... 1-3 0-0 0-0 0 5 5 4 2 1 1 1 1 20

23 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... 6-8 2-3 7-7 3 5 8 2 21 2 0 0 1 29

30 CUMMARD, Lee........ 1-2 1-1 0-0 2 0 2 1 3 0 2 0 0 10

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

Totals.............. 25-54 5-13 21-25 12 23 35 15 76 10 11 2 8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-30 46.7% 2nd Half: 11-24 45.8% Game: 46.3% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-8 37.5% 2nd Half: 2-5 40.0% Game: 38.5% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 2-4 50.0% 2nd Half: 19-21 90.5% Game: 84.0% 1

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Officials: Greg Burks, Mike Giarratano, Roosevelt Brown

Technical fouls: New Mexico Lobos-None. BYU Cougars-None.

Attendance: 20732

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

New Mexico Lobos.............. 34 34 - 68

BYU Cougars................... 33 43 - 76

Kresimir Cosic's #11 jersey retired at halftime

Points in the paint-NM 24,BY 36. Points off turnovers-NM 8,BY 16.

2nd chance points-NM 7,BY 13. Fast break points-NM 2,BY 8.

Bench points-NM 21,BY 26. Score tied-2 times. Lead changes-9 times.

Tags: Results