Lyday Scores 32, Cougars Advance to Title Game

MWC Player of the Year Mekeli Wesley drives against Wyoming's Josh Davis

LAS -- BYU advanced to the finals of the Mountain West Conference Championship for the second straight year as the held off Wyoming's come-from-behind efforts to win 77-66 Friday.

In a game that pitted two of the Mountain West Conference Co-champions, BYU emerged as the victor thanks to the play of senior Mekeli Wesley and Terrell Lyday, who combined for all but four of the Cougars 34 second-half points.

Lyday set a MWC Tournament record as he tourched the Cowboys for 32 points on 8-15 shooting and a perfect 3 of 3 from beyond the three-point line.

"Terrell and Mekeli played huge for us tonight," BYU head coach Steve Cleveland said. "We played a great game tonight and we don't win it unless we have the kind of performance we got from those two guys."

The Cougars got off to a great start going up 20-10 and led by as much as 15 in the first period. Wyoming's Brett Mcfall hit a three pointer to end the half cutting BYU's lead to 12. The Cowboys got MWC Player of the Year Wesley in foul trouble as he sat on the bench for the majority of the first half. The Cowboys started the second half tough, but Mekeli Wesley's fresh legs lifted the Cougars out to an 18 point spread. Wesley hit three straight three pointers to ignite the Thomas and Mack Center crowd and to take away Wyoming's momentum. BYU shot a season high 69.2 percent from 3-point range.

But much like the BYU-Wyoming game in Laramie earlier this year, the Cowboys fought back and cut the lead to five points on several occasions. But unlike the earlier game in Laramie, where the Cowboys hit 12 of their last 13 shots, BYU made some key stops. The Cougars made the key stops down the stretch with two of its big men (Eric Nielsen and Nate Knight) out with five fouls. Wesley played the final 11 minutes of the game with four fouls.

Keeping Wesley in the game was a key to the Cougars victory.

"I told Mekeli, 'don't foul and if you have to give up a basket to stay in the game then do it,'" Cleveland said. "I had to play him because he's a presence inside and he opens up our offense."

Seniors Trent Whiting and Nate Cooper also had a big nights. Whiting hit a couple of first half three pointers to finish with 11 points and Cooper had a team high seven rebounds. BYU is now 10-0 on the season when Lyday scores 20 or more points in a game.

BYU now will face the winner of the other semifinal game between New Mexico and Utah and hope to earn their way into the big dance.

"As far as we're concerned, we've got to win this tournament to advance to the NCAA's," Cleveland said. "It doesn't matter what we think should happen to our team. The only thing we can control is winning tomorrow and that's our mindset right now."

BYU is now 23-8 on the season, the highest win total since 1992-93 when the Cougars finished 25-9. That season BYU advanced to the NCAA Tournament defeating SMU 80-71 in the first round before falling 76-90 to Kansas.

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

Wyoming vs BYU

03/09/01 6:00 PM at Las Vegas, Nevada

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VISITORS: Wyoming 20-9, 10-4 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

00 MINGO, Ronell....... f 3-6 0-0 2-3 1 3 4 4 8 0 2 2 0 21

22 DAVIS, Josh......... f 5-12 0-1 4-8 2 6 8 3 14 1 0 1 0 34

05 NSONWU-AMADI, Uche.. c 3-7 0-0 3-5 2 2 4 3 9 1 2 1 0 31

10 McMILLIAN, Chris.... g 1-7 0-3 0-0 1 1 2 3 2 1 1 0 1 35

44 BAILEY, Marcus...... g 6-11 0-1 2-2 2 2 4 4 14 2 2 0 0 34

04 UDEZUE, Ugo......... 0-2 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 3

14 McFALL, Brett....... 5-9 2-5 7-9 0 3 3 2 19 3 1 0 0 30

24 CORNER, Paris....... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 1 0 0 12

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

Totals.............. 23-55 2-11 18-27 10 20 30 21 66 9 10 4 1 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 10-25 .400 2nd Half: 13-30 .433 Game: .418 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-7 .286 2nd Half: 0-4 .000 Game: .182 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 9-12 .750 2nd Half: 9-15 .600 Game: .667 1

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HOME TEAM: BYU 23-8, 10-4 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

01 KNIGHT, Nate........ f 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 4 4 5 0 0 0 1 0 15

15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... f 8-14 4-5 3-4 1 5 6 4 23 0 2 0 2 27

21 WHITING, Trent...... g 3-7 2-4 3-3 0 2 2 1 11 5 1 0 1 38

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 8-15 3-3 13-14 1 3 4 3 32 3 3 1 0 38

42 COOPER, Nathan...... g 1-2 0-0 0-0 2 5 7 1 2 3 3 2 0 29

02 HANSEN, Travis...... 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 2 2 1 0 0 0 0 0 5

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... 2-3 0-0 1-2 0 1 1 5 5 0 2 0 0 17

31 MONTAGUE,Matt....... 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 2 2 0 2 1 1 0 0 8

34 CHRISMAN, Jacob..... 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 2 2 1 1 0 0 7

40 HOWARD, Dan......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1

43 DAWES, Derek........ 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 3 3 3 0 0 1 0 0 15

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

Totals.............. 22-45 9-13 24-27 5 30 35 26 77 13 14 4 3 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 14-23 .609 2nd Half: 8-22 .364 Game: .489 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 5-7 .714 2nd Half: 4-6 .667 Game: .692 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 10-11 .909 2nd Half: 14-16 .875 Game: .889 1

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Officials: David Hall, Lonnie Dixon, Randy McCall

Technical fouls: Wyoming-None. BYU-None.

Attendance:

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Wyoming....................... 31 35 - 66

BYU........................... 43 34 - 77

Statistics provided by Jim Shaffer (statman@winning.com) 702-244-7925

Tags: Results