Plaisted's Career Night Takes Cougars to the Title Game

All-MWC center Trent Plaisted had a career-high 27 points in the win against Wyoming in the MWC Tournament semifinals (Photo by Jaren Wilkey/BYU Photo)

LAS -- The BYU men's basketball team (25-7) will be heading to the MWC Tournament Championship game for the first time since 2001 after beating Wyoming 96-84 in Friday's semifinal.

"I'm very proud of our players," said BYU head coach Dave Rose. "We came out and got off to a great start. We were playing well together, we were unselfish and sharing the ball and we were hitting shots. We got a nice lead and were able to carry that lead to victory."

BYU was led by All-MWC center Trent Plaisted, who tied his career high with 27 points and posted 10 boards. Lee Cummard, Austin Ainge and MWC Player of the Year Keena Young each scored in double figures with 21, 14 and 12 points, respectively.

The Cougars began the game hot with Cummard hitting two threes and Ainge getting a mid-range jumper to take a quick 8-2 lead. Young then got a pair of free throw, which was immediately followed by a two-handed throwdown by Cummard, forcing Wyoming to take an early timeout with 16:38 left in the first half.

BYU came out of the timeout going right at the Cowboys as Ainge hit a three and Cummard posted a layup. Wyoming thought the media timeout might cool the Cougars off but Jimmy Balderson hit a three at the top of the key to extend the lead to 20-5 and continue BYU's hot shooting.

Plaisted then took over, scoring 11 straight for BYU and spurring a 17-1 Cougar run. MWC Freshman of the Year Jonathan Tavernari then gave Coach Rose huge minutes off the bench, hitting his first attempt from the field, and was followed by a Mike Rose three-pointer extending the lead 38-13.

The Cougars traded baskets with Wyoming the rest of the first half and went into the intermission up 54-35. BYU shot 60 percent behind the arc in the period and was led by Plaisted and Cummard's 17 and 12 points, respectively.

BYU came out of the locker room struggling to score until Balderson drove the lane and dished to Plaisted for a crowd raising one-handed slam at the 17:30 mark. On the next Cougar possession Balderson hit a deep three to extend the lead to 59-37.

Over the next six minutes Wyoming held BYU to just seven points as the Cowboys tried to claw their way back into the game down by 16 with 10:29 left. Though the Cougars were struggling offensively, they took valuable time off the clock on the offensive end, making it difficult for Wyoming to mount any sort of quick comeback.

BYU got back on track with a mid-range jumper by Young and a pair of Plaisted free throws to maintain a 70-53 lead with 9:06 remaining. Over the next four minutes Wyoming put pressure on BYU every time the Cougars brought the ball up the court, forcing BYU to turn the ball over and take difficult shots.

Right after Wyoming got within seven of the BYU lead Ainge hit two huge free throws, and then Rose added the dagger with a deep three at the top of the key to extend the lead to 82-72 with 2:19 left. BYU then got back-to-back defensive stops and a pair of free throws from Young and Cummard to go up 14 with 1:30 remaining.

The Cowboys then went on an 8-1 run to get within seven of the Cougars but, after failing to convert on the offensive end, they were forced to foul the rest of the way, resulting in the 96-84 BYU win.

BYU will play the winner of Friday's second semifinal between No. 25 UNLV and Colorado State Saturday in the MWC Championship game at 4 p.m. PT. The game will be televised on VERSUS.

CLICK HERE to view postgame notes and quotes.

Box score below.

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

Wyoming vs BYU

03-09-07 6 p.m. at Thomas & Mack Center - Las Vegas, Nev.

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VISITORS: Wyoming 17-15

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

20 TAYLOR, Joseph...... f 3-5 1-1 2-3 4 7 11 5 9 0 1 3 1 29

40 BROWN, Daaron....... f 4-9 0-0 0-0 2 6 8 4 8 1 1 0 0 25

01 JONES, Brad......... g 6-16 1-3 10-15 2 5 7 4 23 5 5 0 4 38

02 SPENCER, James...... g 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 1 1 1 2 0 3 0 0 21

23 EWING, Brandon...... g 10-22 1-6 2-3 2 0 2 4 23 4 3 0 1 39

03 OKOYE, Ike.......... 1-1 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 0 2 0 1 2 0 6

05 DERMODY, Ryan....... 0-0 0-0 0-2 0 0 0 3 0 0 0 0 0 6

31 PLATT, Eric......... 4-8 4-8 1-3 0 2 2 4 13 3 1 0 0 22

32 NELSON, Travis...... 2-3 0-0 0-2 0 0 0 2 4 0 0 0 0 11

45 SONGONDO, Bienvenu.. 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 0 0 0 0 3

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

Totals.............. 31-67 7-19 15-28 15 23 38 29 84 13 15 5 6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 15-33 45.5% 2nd Half: 16-34 47.1% Game: 46.3% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 2-9 22.2% 2nd Half: 5-10 50.0% Game: 36.8% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 3-7 42.9% 2nd Half: 12-21 57.1% Game: 53.6% 4

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HOME TEAM: BYU 25-7

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 3-13 0-0 6-8 3 7 10 2 12 2 2 1 0 31

44 PLAISTED, Trent..... f 10-13 0-0 7-16 1 9 10 2 27 1 2 3 2 36

13 AINGE, Austin....... g 4-6 3-3 5-6 1 0 1 4 16 2 2 0 2 31

23 BALDERSON, Jimmy.... g 2-5 2-2 0-1 0 0 0 2 6 3 1 0 2 20

30 CUMMARD, Lee........ g 6-8 2-4 7-8 1 6 7 4 21 3 4 0 3 33

02 ROSE, Mike.......... 2-4 2-4 3-4 0 3 3 0 9 0 1 0 0 18

20 BURGESS, Sam........ 0-0 0-0 0-0 2 0 2 1 0 1 1 0 1 8

24 MURDOCK, Ben........ 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 4 0 1 0 0 0 9

45 TAVERNARI, Jonathan. 2-6 0-1 1-2 3 3 6 0 5 1 0 3 0 14

TEAM................ 2 2

Totals.............. 29-56 9-14 29-45 13 29 42 19 96 14 13 7 10 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 21-35 60.0% 2nd Half: 8-21 38.1% Game: 51.8% DEADB

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 6-8 75.0% 2nd Half: 3-6 50.0% Game: 64.3% REBS

F Throw % 1st Half: 6-10 60.0% 2nd Half: 23-35 65.7% Game: 64.4% 7,1

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Officials: Verne Harris, Randy McCall, Eric Curry

Technical fouls: Wyoming-None. BYU-None.

Attendance:

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Wyoming....................... 35 49 - 84

BYU........................... 54 42 - 96

ID-533031

Points in the paint-WY 42,BY 30. Points off turnovers-WY 10,BY 18.

2nd chance points-WY 10,BY 14. Fast break points-WY 8,BY 4.

Bench points-WY 19,BY 14. Score tied-0 times. Lead changes-0 times.

Tags: Results