Cougars Lose In Opening Round

Freshman Trent Plaisted scored 15 points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds against Utah Thursday. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

DENVER -- BYU's Mountain West Conference Tournament title hopes came to an end in the first round Thursday night as the third-seeded Cougars lost 74-70 to sixth-seeded Utah. At 20-8 overall, BYU will now hope for a postseason invitation.

"I thought it was a hard fought battle between two good teams," said BYU Head Coach Dave Rose. "It came down to the wire. They just made some big plays and won. I'm proud of my players. These guys played hard and fought hard. We just came up a couple points short."

Keena Young led the Cougars with 17 points while recording a career-high three steals. MWC Freshman of the Year Trent Plaisted recorded 15 points while pacing BYU with six rebounds. Jimmy Balderson chipped on 13 points. Overall, the Cougars shot 50 percent for the game, including 60 percent in the second half, and recorded 12 turnovers but were outrebounded 37-21, including 16 offensive rebounds for the Utes.

"The fact that they had 16 offensive rebounds and got second chances a lot of times, especially late in the game," said Rose. "There were a couple times where we got the stop but couldn't get the rebound. That was a determining factor."

Young came out hot for BYU, draining his first two shots to put BYU up 4-0 early. Utah struck for the first time at the 17:40 mark and then took a 5-4 lead as the Cougars turned the ball over on three straight possessions. A three-pointer from NBA range from Rashaun Broadus allowed BYU to retake the lead at 7-5, but a 17-6 Utah run left the Cougars trailing 22-13 with 7:11 remaining in the half.

Balderson, who has been the x-factor for the Cougars, refused to let his team go down without a fight, draining a three-pointer and then grabbing a steal on the subsequent possession that he took all the way to the hoop but was fouled. After Balderson made the first but missed the second from the line, Young pulled down the rebound, creating another three-point opportunity for Balderson. Although the Canadian missed on this opportunity, Plaisted pulled down the rebound, giving the Cougars yet another chance to cut into the five-point Utah lead. A dish from Broadus found Balderson in the corner, who took it to the hoop once again but was called for the offensive foul, preserving the Utes' 22-17 lead

Fernando Malaman entered the game for the first time after a Utah basket increased the lead to 24-17 and made his first shot attempt. But the Utes responded with another 4-0 spurt to equal their game-high lead to that point at 28-19 with three minutes remaining in the half.

Utah did not score from the field again in the half but made seven of its last eight free throws to take a 35-28 lead into the locker room at the break. Despite almost identical shooting percentages in the first half, BYU was outrebounded 23-11.

The Cougars came out firing in the second half, cutting Utah's lead to 40-36 thanks in part to four points from Plaisted including his 29th dunk of the year on a steal and dish from Balderson. Plaisted's two scores sparked a 9-2 BYU run to cut the Utah lead to 43-41. The Utes responded with their third three-point make of the half, but Plaisted continued his dominance inside, scoring four more points to bring the Cougars within one at 46-45 with 12:43 remaining. Plaisted scored 11 of 13 BYU points during the run, which saw the Cougars make six straight shots.

"I needed to come out and play harder in the second half so that's what I did," said Plaisted. "I just played better in the second half."

Two minutes later, Jackson Emery tied the game at 47-47 for the first time since 9-9 on a fastbreak layin after poking the ball away from the Utes and taking it to the hoop. The two teams battled from there until a three-pointer from Jimmy Balderson on the fastbreak gave the Cougars their first lead since 7-5 at 56-54 with 7:19 left to play. Balderson drained two free throws to extend the Cougar lead to 58-54 while reaching double figures in scoring. Balderson has scored in double figures in 11 of BYU's last 12 games.

The Utes struggled to keep pace with BYU as the Cougars continued to run up and down the court but stayed in the game with clutch free-throw shooting. A three-point play that ended with Utah's 14th free-throw make in 15 tries allowed the Utes to retake the lead at 64-63.

BYU fought back with four straight points to gain a 66-64 advantage, but five Ute points gave them a 69-66 lead as the clock ticked down to under a minute to play. Young found the hoop on a short jumper but Utah's Luke Nevill responded to put the Utes up 71-68 with 12 seconds left. BYU tried to come back from the free-throw line but it was not enough as Utah took the 74-70 win.

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

Utah Men vs BYU Men

03-09-06 10:00 p.m. at Denver, Colo. (Pepsi Center)

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VISITORS: Utah Men 14-14 (6-10 MWC)

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

20 MARKSON, Bryant..... f 5-14 0-1 3-4 7 2 9 3 13 2 1 0 1 37

21 GREEN, Shaun........ f 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 4 0 2 3 0 1 24

50 NEVILL, Luke........ c 9-15 0-0 11-15 7 7 14 3 29 1 4 2 2 33

01 BRYANT, Johnnie..... g 4-10 3-4 5-6 1 2 3 3 16 2 2 0 0 36

02 BORHA, Lawrence..... g 2-5 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 2 5 1 3 0 0 25

03 GRANT, Chris........ 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 1 0 0 0 12

11 DRISDOM, Tim........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 1 2 0 0 10

30 JACKSON, Chris...... 0-2 0-0 0-1 0 1 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 7

32 JOHNS, Ricky........ 3-5 1-2 2-3 0 1 1 3 9 1 0 0 1 16

TEAM................ 1 3 4

Totals.............. 24-54 5-10 21-29 16 21 37 20 74 11 15 2 5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 12-29 41.4% 2nd Half: 12-25 48.0% Game: 44.4% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 1-4 25.0% 2nd Half: 4-6 66.7% Game: 50.0% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 10-16 62.5% 2nd Half: 11-13 84.6% Game: 72.4% 6,2

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HOME TEAM: BYU Men 20-8 (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 6-9 0-0 5-6 2 1 3 1 17 0 2 0 3 28

44 PLAISTED, Trent..... f 7-13 0-0 1-3 2 4 6 4 15 1 3 0 0 35

01 BROADUS, Rashaun.... g 2-6 1-4 2-4 0 2 2 2 7 2 1 0 2 29

04 EMERY, Jackson...... g 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 5 2 1 1 0 1 14

11 REICHNER, Brock..... g 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 3 0 2 2 1 1 26

13 AINGE, Austin....... 2-2 0-0 1-1 0 1 1 1 5 1 0 0 0 10

15 MALAMAN, Fernando... 4-7 1-3 0-0 0 1 1 3 9 0 1 1 0 16

23 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... 3-6 2-4 5-6 0 2 2 4 13 3 1 1 3 28

30 CUMMARD, Lee........ 0-2 0-1 2-2 0 1 1 3 2 3 1 1 0 13

43 DAWES, Derek........ 0-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

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

Totals.............. 25-50 4-12 16-22 5 16 21 26 70 13 12 4 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-25 40.0% 2nd Half: 15-25 60.0% Game: 50.0% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-8 37.5% 2nd Half: 1-4 25.0% Game: 33.3% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 5-8 62.5% 2nd Half: 11-14 78.6% Game: 72.7% 3

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Officials: Stanley Reynolds, Larry Spaulding, Mike Giarratano

Technical fouls: Utah Men-None. BYU Men-None.

Attendance: 8432

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Utah Men...................... 35 39 - 74

BYU Men....................... 28 42 - 70

ID-429325

Points in the paint-UT 34,BY 30. Points off turnovers-UT 15,BY 16.

2nd chance points-UT 17,BY 6. Fast break points-UT 4,BY 4.

Bench points-UT 11,BY 29. Score tied-7 times. Lead changes-7 times.

Tags: Results