Cougars Fall to UNLV in MWC Championship Game

MWC Player of the Year Keena Young had a career-high 34 points against UNLV Saturday night. (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

Cummard, Plaisted and Young Named to All-Tournament Team

LAS -- The No. 23 BYU men's basketball team played a hard-fought game against UNLV, but ran out of energy in the closing minutes to fall in the Mountain West Conference Championship game, 78-70. The Cougars fall to 25-8 while the Rebels improve to 28-6 on the season.

"I thought it was a very hard-fought contest," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "I thought both teams played really well. I'm very proud of our team. I thought we battled and gave a great effort. It was a game that came down right to the end. I couldn't be more proud of a group of players because they battled to the very end."

The Cougars were led by MWC Player of the Year Keena Young, who had a career-high 34 points on 13-of-18 shooting and nine rebounds. His scoring output was the most scored by a Cougar since Mekeli Wesley posted 34 on Jan. 20, 2000. All-MWC forward Lee Cummard recorded a double-double with 13 points and a career-high 13 boards for BYU.

The game began with the Cougars striking first as Austin Ainge found Young on a full-court pass for a layup at the 18:38 mark. BYU then scored on the next three possessions to take an early 8-0 lead and force the Rebels to take a timeout with 16:44 remaining in the first half.

UNLV finally got on the board hitting a desperation three as the shot clock expired, but BYU quickly answered with back-to-back three-pointers by Mike Rose and Cummard to extend the lead 16-3 with 13:43 left.

The Rebels started to make a run, but before it went anywhere Rose connected on another deep three at the top of the key. Cummard then came up with another one of his trademark hustle plays by rebounding his own shot and laying it in for the bucket.

On the next possession Young went to work on the Rebels hitting a fade-away jumper to extend the lead 24-10. UNLV then tightened up its defense and went on a 14-4 run to cut its deficit to four and force BYU to take a timeout with 2:52 left. Right out of the timeout the Cougars wasted no time getting the ball to Young for a quick score.

The Rebels answered back with a quick bucket of their own to stay close to BYU at 30-26. The Cougars then closed out the half going on a 7-0 run with Young hitting a jumper, Plaisted throwing down a two-handed dunk and Rose blasting another three to go into the intermission up 37-26. Young led BYU in the first half with 12 points on 6-of-9 shooting and six boards.

The second half started with Cummard getting a layup for BYU, but a couple possessions later UNLV answered with a rare four-point play to cut its deficit to five with 16:49 left. Ainge then came off a Plaisted pick and hit a three-pointer to silence the Rebel fans at the Thomas & Mack Center and extend the lead to 44-36.

BYU then got six straight points from Young but after that stretch the Rebels nailed a three-pointer and made key shots to cut the Cougar lead to 50-48 at the second media timeout with 11:57 left. UNLV came out of the timeout with a three-pointer to take its first lead of the game 51-50. The one-point deficit marked the first time BYU had trailed at the MWC Tournament.

For the next few minutes the two teams traded buckets back and forth with neither team running away with the lead. UNLV then took a two-point advantage at the 6:13 mark but Young answered right back tying the game at 57. The Rebels then scored four straight points forcing BYU to take a full timeout with 4:27 left.

Young then traded baskets with UNLV for the next four possessions scoring eight points of his own to the Rebels' six to keep the Cougars within four. Being down 72-68 with 42 seconds left BYU was forced to foul. The Cougars were unable to create any sort of comeback down the stretch and ended up falling to the Rebels 78-70.

BYU will now await the announcement of the 65-team NCAA Tournament field, hoping for an at-large berth. The field wil be announced Sunday at 4 p.m. MT on CBS.

MWC All-Tournament Team

Lee Cummard, BYU

Trent Plaisted, BYU

Keena Young, BYU

Brad Jones, Wyoming

Wink Adams, UNLV

Kevin Kruger, UNLV - MVP

CLICK HERE to view postgame notes and quotes.

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

BYU Cougars vs No. 25 UNLV Rebels

03/10/07 4 p.m. at Thomas & Mack Center, Las Vegas, Nev.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

VISITORS: BYU Cougars 25-8

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 13-18 0-0 8-11 2 7 9 3 34 0 3 0 0 34

44 PLAISTED, Trent..... c 3-9 0-0 1-5 0 3 3 0 7 2 2 0 0 34

13 AINGE, Austin....... g 1-4 1-3 0-0 1 2 3 3 3 10 3 0 0 34

23 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... g 2-4 0-2 0-0 0 1 1 5 4 0 1 0 0 19

30 CUMMARD, Lee........ g 6-12 1-3 0-1 8 5 13 4 13 3 1 0 1 35

02 ROSE, Mike.......... 3-5 3-4 0-0 0 1 1 3 9 0 2 0 1 24

20 BURGESS, Sam........ 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 3

24 MURDOCK, Ben........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 0 6

45 TAVERNARI, Jonathan. 0-3 0-2 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 0 0 11

TEAM................ 3 3 6

Totals.............. 28-56 5-14 9-17 14 24 38 21 70 16 13 0 2 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 16-29 55.2% 2nd Half: 12-27 44.4% Game: 50.0% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-6 66.7% 2nd Half: 1-8 12.5% Game: 35.7% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 1-2 50.0% 2nd Half: 8-15 53.3% Game: 52.9% 2

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

HOME TEAM: No. 25 UNLV Rebels 28-6

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

52 ESSENGUE, Gaston.... f 4-8 0-0 2-2 3 4 7 2 10 0 2 1 3 22

01 ADAMS, Wink......... g 5-13 3-7 2-3 0 1 1 2 15 3 0 0 0 32

02 KRUGER, Kevin....... g 2-11 1-7 5-5 0 2 2 2 10 1 1 0 4 37

03 UMEH, Michael....... g 5-9 3-5 5-7 1 6 7 2 18 1 0 0 0 31

05 WHITE, Wendell...... g 4-10 0-0 0-0 1 4 5 3 8 1 0 0 0 23

20 LAWRENCE, Marcus.... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 2 0 0 0 3

24 ROUGEAU, Rene....... 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 1 1 1 1 6

30 ANTHONY, Joel....... 3-3 0-0 0-1 2 1 3 3 6 0 0 1 0 18

31 TERRY, Curtis....... 1-1 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 2 4 0 1 0 1 15

45 DARGER, Joe......... 1-3 1-1 0-0 0 0 0 2 3 0 0 0 0 13

TEAM................ 2 2 2

Totals.............. 27-60 8-20 16-20 9 19 28 18 78 9 7 3 9 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 11-31 35.5% 2nd Half: 16-29 55.2% Game: 45.0% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-10 30.0% 2nd Half: 5-10 50.0% Game: 40.0% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 1-1 100 % 2nd Half: 15-19 78.9% Game: 80.0% 4,1

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Officials: David Hall, Verne Harris, Randy McCall

Technical fouls: BYU Cougars-None. No. 25 UNLV Rebels-None.

Attendance: 16204

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

BYU Cougars................... 37 33 - 70

No. 25 UNLV Rebels............ 26 52 - 78

Tags: Results