Incredible Comeback Leads to BYU 63-61 Win Over Utah

Junior guard Travis Hansen led BYU with 17 points and seven rebounds in Saturday's win over Utah. BYU finished the year with a perfect 15-0 home record for the second straight season.

PROVO -- In the last regular season home game of their careers, seniors Matt Montague and Eric Nielsen combined to create an unforgettable comeback that led to a 63-61 victory over rival Utah at the Marriott Center Saturday.

With 1:18 left in the game, Montague hit a three-pointer to bring BYU within one, 61-60. The Marriott Center crowd of 15,628 erupted. Then Montague made a record-setting assist to Nielsen who finished the play by hitting an eight-foot jumper to give the Cougars their first lead of the game, 62-61, with 25 seconds remaining. The assist tied Montague with BYU legend Danny Ainge for the all-time career record for assists at 539 and added more lore to the tradition of Marriott Center magic.

A crucial rebound and one made free throw by BYU upstart Dan Howard gave the Cougars a two-point edge, 63-61, and then Mark Bigelow sealed the victory with a rebound off a Utah jump shot. Bigelow finished with 11 points and two rebounds.

"Before I say anything, I want to tell you that I thought it was most appropriate that our two seniors hit the two big shots of the game," said BYU head coach Steve Cleveland. "This is not the end of the season, but it's really, really nice to see really good things happen to these two young men."

A BYU victory looked very doubtful in the first half as the Cougars trailed 43-26 at the break. BYU had never trailed by more than 12 at half this season and never came back from any of their three 12-point halftime deficits to win.

"The first 20 minutes were probably the worst 20 minutes we have played in the last two or three years," Cleveland said.

Early scores by Utah in the second half pushed the lead to 21, 47-26, but BYU then went on a 24-5 run to make it 52-50 with 7:26 remaining. Despite being in foul trouble, Cougar Travis Hansen led the comeback as he has done so many times this season. He finished with a game-high 17 points in addition to his seven rebounds and three assists.

Senior Matt Montague dished out seven assists Saturday to tie Danny Ainge as BYU's all-time assist leader at 539. He ranks third in the nation in assists this season. (BYU Photo by Steve Walters)

"We had to have help from Travis, but we had to keep him off the floor with four fouls," Cleveland said. "But he is a hungry, aggressive young man and I think he is pretty happy now. This was a great college game."

"When they get on a stretch and those fans get behind them, it's tough to win," said Utah center Phil Cullen. "You have to be at the top of your game."

Nielsen finished the game with 14 points, four rebounds and one each of blocks, steals and assists. Montague hit a three-pointer for the fifth time in six games and finished with seven points, seven assists, zero turnovers and two rebounds.

While the Cougar offense was scoring, its defense was playing its best half of the season. After a dismal first half in which BYU allowed a season-worst 43 points given up in a half, the Cougars were able to tighten up their defense. BYU only allowed 18 Ute points in the second half, tying the season low for points scored by an opponent in any half.

"Utah is a very well-coached team and they don't beat themselves," Cleveland said. "We knew a comeback would be very difficult. If you get enough stops and get to the free-throw line enough, it can be done."

The win brings the Cougars to 7-5 in conference play and 17-8 overall. Utah falls to 9-3, 19-6 respectively. BYU tied the all-time series 116-116 with the win, its first in the last three meetings of the two rivals. The win also gave the Cougars their 35th straight victory at home, the nation's best home winning streak.

BYU goes on the road for its last two games of the regular season as it gears up to face league-leading Wyoming on Feb. 28 at 7:30 p.m. and Colorado State at 7 p.m. on Mar. 2.

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

Utah vs BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars

02/23/02 1:05 at Marriott Center, Provo, Utah

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VISITORS: Utah 19-6, 9-3

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

31 JOHNSEN, Britton.... f 6-12 2-5 1-2 4 9 13 4 15 3 2 0 1 34

35 JOHNSEN, Jeff....... f 2-8 1-4 0-0 0 2 2 1 5 2 2 0 2 30

13 KOFORD, Cameron..... c 4-4 0-0 2-2 1 1 2 3 10 1 0 0 1 14

11 SPIVEY, Travis...... g 5-9 0-1 2-7 0 2 2 2 12 3 1 0 1 32

15 JACOBSON, Nick...... g 5-10 0-0 2-3 1 1 2 1 12 3 3 1 1 32

03 OSIMANI, Martin..... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 0 1 0 0 1 9

21 CATON, Trace........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 2 0 0 1 0 0 20

32 OSMUNDSON, Eric..... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 1 0 0 4

40 CULLEN, Phil........ 1-3 1-3 4-4 1 3 4 3 7 1 3 2 1 25

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

Totals.............. 23-47 4-13 11-18 8 21 29 19 61 14 13 3 8 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 17-26 65.4% 2nd Half: 6-21 28.6% Game: 48.9% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-8 50.0% 2nd Half: 0-5 0.0% Game: 30.8% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 5-5 100 % 2nd Half: 6-13 46.2% Game: 61.1% 1

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HOME TEAM: BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars 17-8, 7-5

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 4-9 3-5 0-0 0 2 2 3 11 2 2 0 2 37

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 6-11 0-1 2-2 1 3 4 3 14 1 3 1 1 40

52 JENSEN, Jared....... c 2-6 0-0 5-6 3 3 6 2 9 0 1 0 2 20

02 HANSEN, Travis...... g 5-8 2-2 5-8 0 7 7 4 17 3 1 0 0 34

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... g 3-8 1-4 0-0 0 2 2 3 7 7 0 0 0 37

10 NASHIF, Terry....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

20 BOBIK, Daniel....... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 2 0 0 5

22 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... 1-3 0-1 0-1 0 1 1 2 2 0 0 0 0 9

32 JEPSEN, Bart........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

40 HOWARD, Dan......... 1-2 0-0 1-2 2 1 3 1 3 0 1 0 0 14

42 CARLISLE, Jon....... 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2

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

Totals.............. 22-49 6-14 13-19 10 22 32 18 63 13 11 1 5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 8-21 38.1% 2nd Half: 14-28 50.0% Game: 44.9% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-9 33.3% 2nd Half: 3-5 60.0% Game: 42.9% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 7-8 87.5% 2nd Half: 6-11 54.5% Game: 68.4% 2

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Officials: Scott Thornley, Randy McCall, Tim Gabutero

Technical fouls: Utah-None. BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars-None.

Attendance: 15628

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Utah.......................... 43 18 - 61

BRIGHAM YOUNG Cougars......... 26 37 - 63

Points in the paint-UT 28,BY 24. Points off turnovers-UT 15,BY 18.

2nd chance points-UT 7,BY 12. Fast break points-UT 2,BY 0.

Bench points-UT 7,BY 5. Score tied-0 times. Lead changes-1 time.

Tags: Results