Nielsens Help Cougars Roll Bowling Green | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Nielsens Help Cougars Roll Bowling Green

PROVO, Utah -- It was Nielsen night at the NIT for BYU on Wednesday night. No, it had nothing to do with television ratings, but rather the Cougars' duo of Eric and David Nielsen (no relation).

In all, the Nielsen tandem combined for 20 points, 11 rebounds and four steals. Although not the most eye-grabbing numbers, it was significant considering their normal contribution for the Cougars. Add decent nights from Cougar stars Mekeli Wesley and Terrell Lyday along with a 14-point, five-assist night from point guard Michael Vranes and you've got an 81-54 win over Bowling Green in the first round of the NIT.

On one end of the court it was a Nielsen (David) guarding MAC Player of the Year Anthony Stacey. On the other end of the court it was a Nielsen (Eric) shooting 6-for-6 from the field.

Eric Nielsen's performance wasn't so much a surprise after a pair of breakout games at the Mountain West Tournament last week. But he still entered the game averaging just 5.5 points and 4.1 rebounds per game. He finished with 13 points and four boards on Wednesday.

David Nielsen, however, has played sparingly all season long. His career-high 34 minutes against Bowling Green was half his season total of 68 minutes.

"It was just fun to be out there," said Nielsen, a redshirt freshman from Brighton High School.

He finished the night with 7 points and seven rebounds, but his real contribution came against the 6-4, 235-pound Stacey. Stacey finished the night with 11 points -- a full 6 below his average -- and just 5-of-12 shooting.

"Everybody has an opportunity to have their time," Cleveland said. "But if Les [Rivers] is healthy the whole year, David may have never gotten the opportunity.

"What he does, he does well. He knows his role on this team and that's a tribute to him; not everybody needs to shoot 15 times a game."

The Nielsen duo's biggest moments, however, came in the first half with Lyday and Wesley sitting on the bench most of the half, playing just a combined 17 minutes.

Lyday suffered a concussion less than three minutes into the game. Lyday suffered the injury while tumbling to the floor with Stacey. The heated moments that followed led to double-technicals on Stacey and Wesley.

"It was just a minor altercation -- nothing personal," Stacey said. "Wesley said a few things, I said a few things ... but it was nothing, just college basketball."

It was Wesley's second personal foul, and it led to boos the rest of the night for Stacey every time he touched the basketball.

"They had a good crowd ... that's their job," Stacey said. "I like that."

Lyday still managed a team-high 15 points, but a migraine induced by the concussion cut his minutes short for the night. That opened the door for Nielsen and Nielsen, who helped the Cougars to a 38-28 halftime lead. Eric Nielsen picked up the offensive slack, scoring 9 straight points for BYU to keep the game tight. David Nielsen, meanwhile, held Stacey to 3 first-half points and brought all 10,010 fans to their feet by fouling Dave Esterkamp, who went up for what appeared to be a big dunk.

"That was my fault because he was my man," he said of the play.

The game remained close until David Nielsen's 3-point play with 4:46 before the break gave the Cougars a 28-23 lead. That started a 13-5 run to end the half.

Lyday and Wesley took over the scoring duties in the second half. Lyday scored 11 points in his 11 second-half minutes and Wesley, who had struggled offensively in recent games, finally looked comfortable in the post again.

"The old Mekeli Wesley came back in the second half," said Cleveland, who attributed the difference to Wesley being able to play fewer minutes than usual.

The Falcons hung around for five minutes or so of the second half. Then Lyday's 3-pointer with 14:30 sparked a 15-4 run, capped by a two-handed breakaway dunk by Vranes with 8:22 remaining. By then the Falcons trailed 60-42.

"Stepping up maybe is an overused term, but somebody needed to make a play," Bowling Green coach Dan Dakich said.

For the night Bowling Green, which entered the game third in the country in field-goal percentage (.498), shot just 33 percent against the Cougars.

"There's a lot of teams that have come in here and not shot 40 percent and that's a credit to their defense," Dakich said.

As for BYU it was the first trip to the postseason since an NCAA berth in 1995 and their first NIT game since 1994. BYU will play the winner of Thursday night's Colorado-Southern Illinois game on either Monday or Tuesday. The site of the game will be decided following that game, but the chance of another game at the Marriott Center seems likely with Wednesday's solid crowd.

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

Bowling Green State University vs BYU

3/15/00 7:05 at Provo, Utah

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VISITORS: Bowling Green State University 22-8

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

21 ESTERKAMP, Dave..... f 6-11 2-5 5-7 0 1 1 2 19 1 3 0 0 37

34 STACEY, Anthony..... f 5-12 1-4 0-1 3 5 8 3 11 1 3 0 1 32

14 MATELA, Len......... c 2-6 0-0 2-3 2 6 8 3 6 0 3 0 1 27

20 MCLOED, Keith....... g 2-12 2-7 4-5 0 0 0 3 10 1 5 1 2 33

32 PARDON, Brandon..... g 0-4 0-1 0-0 0 3 3 1 0 4 2 0 1 34

04 KING, Jeremy........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 1

10 JACKSON, Trent...... 0-2 0-1 3-4 1 2 3 3 3 0 0 1 0 21

11 BUNN, Graham........ 1-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 6

15 DOLIBOA, Seth....... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3

24 RYAN, Cory.......... 1-1 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 3 0 0 0 0 1

50 BLACK, Dubrey....... 0-1 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 1 0 0 2

52 KLASSEN, Brent...... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 3

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

Totals.............. 17-52 6-20 14-20 11 19 30 17 54 8 17 2 5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 9-26 .346 2nd Half: 8-26 .308 Game: .327 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-10 .300 2nd Half: 3-10 .300 Game: .300 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 7-10 .700 2nd Half: 7-10 .700 Game: .700 0

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HOME TEAM: BYU 21-10

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

15 WESLEY, Mekeli...... f 6-10 1-4 0-0 2 5 7 2 13 1 2 0 0 24

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 6-6 0-0 1-1 0 4 4 4 13 1 0 0 0 20

42 COOPER, Nathan...... f 1-3 0-1 2-2 2 3 5 1 4 6 1 0 0 24

13 VRANES, Michael..... g 5-11 2-4 2-2 1 3 4 4 14 5 4 0 1 34

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 5-9 5-6 0-0 1 3 4 2 15 0 1 1 0 20

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 8

05 ROBERTS, Marc....... 0-1 0-0 3-4 0 1 1 0 3 1 0 0 0 5

10 ALLEN, John......... 3-4 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 1 6 0 1 0 0 5

20 TAGGART, Nick....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... 3-5 0-0 0-1 0 2 2 2 6 3 3 0 0 22

34 ELLSWORTH, Joe...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

50 NIELSEN, David...... 3-5 0-1 1-1 1 6 7 3 7 2 1 0 3 34

Totals.............. 32-56 8-17 9-11 7 30 37 19 81 22 13 1 4 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-27 .556 2nd Half: 17-29 .586 Game: .571 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 4-9 .444 2nd Half: 4-8 .500 Game: .471 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 4-5 .800 2nd Half: 5-6 .833 Game: .818 0

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Officials: Paul Kaster, Paul Janssen, John Higgins

Technical fouls: Bowling Green State University-STACEY, Anthony; MCLOED,

Keith. BYU-WESLEY, Mekeli.

Attendance: 10010

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Bowling Green State University 28 26 - 54

BYU........................... 38 43 - 81