Hard-Fought Win for the Cougars

Trent Plaisted's 21 points and nine rebounds led BYU to a hard-fought victory over Air Force Saturday afternoon. (Photo by Mark Philbrick/BYU Photo)

PROVO -- The second half of the Mountain West Conference season started with a win for BYU as the Cougars outlasted Air Force, 65-59 in front of a season-high 16,541 fans in the Marriott Center Saturday afternoon.

BYU's fourth-consecutive victory improved its record to 14-6 (6-3, MWC) while Air Force dropped to 18-4 and 6-3 in conference play.

Trent Plaisted led all scorers and rebounders with 21 and nine, respectively. Seven of Plaisted's nine boards were offensive. Jimmy Balderson came off the bench to add 17 for the Cougars. BYU head coach Dave Rose is thankful to come out on the winning side.

"It's way better winning than losing," Rose said. "Right now our guys are making big plays and things are going our way."

The hard-fought game saw eight ties and 12 lead changes. Air Force head coach Jeff Bzdelik said the Cougars made the plays when they needed to for the victory.

"Give BYU credit," he said. "It was a heck of a basketball game today."

Both teams started sluggish in the first four minutes. BYU had the turnover bug early, giving the ball away four times, but Air Force was only able to pick up one point off of the early turnovers. Meanwhile, the Cougars made two of their first four field goal attempts to take a 4-1 lead with 15:55 remaining in the first half.

Plaisted began to establish himself inside, hitting his first three field goals from the post while grabbing three early offensive rebounds. Plaisted's seven points in the first eight minutes were more than he scored in the two teams' first game this year.

BYU was able to maintain an 18-13 lead by virtue of its stifling defense. The Cougars held the Falcons to just 25 percent shooting in the first 12 minutes. Air Force stayed close because of early three-pointers and foul shots.

The Falcons went on an 8-0 run over the next 3:30 to take their first lead of the game, a 21-18 advantage with 4:46 remaining. BYU answered, and the two teams battled back and forth. The first half finished with a Rashaun Broadus steal and coast-to-coast circus layup to tie the score at 29 at the break.

Air Force nailed four three pointers to BYU's two and held a 12 to three advantage in foul shots at the break.

"Air Force is so good offensively," Rose said. "We try to prepare for them, but they always seem to hit big shots."

Antoine Hood scored five early second-half points leading the Falcons out of the break on a 7-2 run to give Air Force a 36-31 lead with 17:30 remaining. The five point lead was the Falcons' largest advantage of the game.

Down eight, BYU managed to put together a quick 5-0 run to cut the lead to three only to have Air Force manage to come back and extend the lead back to five. With under 12 minutes to play, the Cougars again clawed back with an 11-5 run capped off by consecutive Broadus threes to put BYU back up 52-48.

Air Force had a 5-0 run of its own to once again retake the lead. But BYU answered right back with a pair of Plaisted free throws to hold a 56-55 advantage with 2:51 left in the game. Dan Nwaelele came up with a big three pointer with 1:45 remaining to give the Falcons a one-point advantage. Plaisted answered for the Cougars, scoring a layup to tilt the see-saw BYU's way once again.

A BYU defensive stop forced the Academy to foul Broadus, who made the front end of the one-and-one. On the ensuing possession, Air Force's Matt McCraw missed a three-pointer and Plaisted secured the rebound and was immediately fouled. Plaisted's two clutch free throws pushed the lead to four. Moments later, Plaisted came up huge defensively, blocking away Hood's lay up attempt to seal the win for the Cougars.

Wednesday, BYU will go for its first victory at Utah since 1994. Game time for the Cougars and Utes will be 7 p.m. at the Huntsman Center.

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

Air Force Falcons vs BYU Cougars

2-4-06 1:05 PM at Marriott Center, Provo, UT

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VISITORS: Air Force Falcons 18-4, 6-3 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

21 BURTSCHI, Jacob..... f 3-8 1-5 0-1 2 2 4 4 7 2 1 0 4 29

34 NWAELELE, Dan....... f 4-8 3-6 0-0 0 2 2 3 11 2 4 0 0 31

54 FRYE, John.......... c 1-3 0-1 0-2 1 6 7 3 2 1 2 1 0 24

05 McCRAW, Matt........ g 6-15 3-9 2-2 1 4 5 4 17 0 3 0 0 38

15 HOOD, Antoine....... g 5-12 2-4 6-9 1 4 5 3 18 4 1 0 2 40

10 HENKE, Andrew....... 1-2 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 7

12 ANDERSON, Tim....... 0-2 0-2 2-2 2 4 6 2 2 3 1 0 1 27

24 TEETS, Ryan......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3

42 JOHNSON, Anwar...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

TEAM................ 5 5

Totals.............. 20-50 9-28 10-16 12 23 35 19 59 12 12 1 7 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-24 37.5% 2nd Half: 11-26 42.3% Game: 40.0% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-11 36.4% 2nd Half: 5-17 29.4% Game: 32.1% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 7-12 58.3% 2nd Half: 3-4 75.0% Game: 62.5% 0

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HOME TEAM: BYU Cougars 14-6, 6-3 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 2-6 0-0 2-2 3 5 8 2 6 2 2 0 0 27

30 CUMMARD, Lee........ f 0-4 0-2 0-0 1 3 4 3 0 4 0 0 1 20

44 PLAISTED, Trent..... c 7-12 0-0 7-10 7 2 9 1 21 2 3 3 0 36

01 BROADUS, Rashaun.... g 5-10 2-5 1-3 0 3 3 4 13 2 2 0 2 32

11 REICHNER, Brock..... g 2-7 1-4 0-0 0 4 4 2 5 2 2 0 1 36

02 ROSE, Mike.......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 2

04 EMERY, Jackson...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0+

13 AINGE, Austin....... 1-2 1-2 0-0 0 4 4 0 3 0 0 0 0 9

15 MALAMAN, Fernando... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 1 0 8

23 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... 6-11 2-5 3-3 0 3 3 2 17 0 1 0 0 30

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

Totals.............. 23-53 6-18 13-18 12 24 36 16 65 12 11 4 4 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-28 46.4% 2nd Half: 10-25 40.0% Game: 43.4% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-8 25.0% 2nd Half: 4-10 40.0% Game: 33.3% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 1-3 33.3% 2nd Half: 12-15 80.0% Game: 72.2% 0

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Officials: Ronnie Hernandez, Mike Reed, Martin Cota

Technical fouls: Air Force Falcons-None. BYU Cougars-None.

Attendance: 16541

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Air Force Falcons............. 29 30 - 59

BYU Cougars................... 29 36 - 65

Points in the paint-AF 16,BY 28. Points off turnovers-AF 3,BY 14.

2nd chance points-AF 10,BY 9. Fast break points-AF 0,BY 8.

Bench points-AF 4,BY 20. Score tied-8 times. Lead changes-12 times.

Tags: Results