Rebels Roll Over Cougars in MWC Final | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Rebels Roll Over Cougars in MWC Final

LAS VEGAS -- It wasn't Larry Johnson, Stacey Augmon and Greg Anthony dancing at midcourt with "Viva Las Vegas" blaring over the sound system at UNLV's Thomas & Mack Center on Saturday night. No, this was a whole new cast of Rebels -- Mark Dickel, Kaspars Kambala and Dalron Johnson -- celebrating a 79-56 blowout win over BYU.

It wasn't a Big West Tournament Trophy being hoisted by Rebel players on Saturday night -- the kind they used to get back in the Jerry Tarkanian days. No, this Rebel team took home the first Mountain West Conference tournament crown.

This Rebel team hasn't been nearly as dominant as their predecessors in the late '80s and early '90s, but for at least one night the 1999-2000 UNLV squad had that same swagger, those same 3-pointers and those same high-flying dunks Vegas fans witnessed a decade ago.

"We didn't want to lose three times. We took it to them," said Kambala, referring to the Cougars' regular-season sweep.

"They beat us in every way one could be beat," BYU coach Steve Cleveland said.

UNLV took advantage of a fatigued, undersized BYU team early, taking a 26-2 lead at one point in the first half.

"Maybe we just played our championship game last night, because we didn't have much left," Cleveland said.

"I thought we might just run out of gas though," Lyday said.

Following two huge upsets over New Mexico and Utah, the Cougars' Cinderella run finally came to a halt against the hottest team in the league. The Rebels pushed their winning streak to seven games and are assumed to be headed to the NCAA Tournament along with the Utes.

"I don't know. We made a big statement today and hopefully it was enough," UNLV coach Bill Bayno said. "I think our league deserves two teams in the NCAA tourney."

Following the celebration, three UNLV players were also named to all-tournament team led by point guard Mark Dickel, the MVP. Dickel, coming off a NCAA-high, 18-assist performance against Wyoming in the semifinals, put up 10 points and seven assists against the Cougars.

The senior from New Zealand, who averaged 13.3 points and 11 assists in the tourney, was the last starter to leave the floor. Bayno waited till there was just over a minute remaining in the game to pull Dickel, who left to a standing ovation and chants of "M-V-P," from the majority of the 14,237 in attendance. Teammates Kaspars Kambala and freshman Dalron Johnson also made the team along with BYU's Terrell Lyday and Wyoming LaDarion Jones.

The entire UNLV starting five reached double figures on Saturday night. Trevor Diggs led the way with 20 points, followed by Johnson with 18, Kambala's 15 and another 14 from former UVSC star Danny Brotherson. Mekeli Wesley had 19 for the Cougars and Lyday finished with 18, all in the second half.

The problems started at the onset with BYU shooting just under 32 percent from the field. But even that wasn't an accurate description of the Cougars' first-half play. After a 2-2 score with 19:16 to play in the half, BYU didn't post another field goal for nearly 13 minutes, managing just a single free throw in that time span.

"It's frustrating to come out as flat as we did," Wesley said.

"It was very obvious that everything was going wrong, offensively, defensively," Cleveland said.

UNLV took full advantage with a 24-0 run to take a 26-2 lead and led 28-3 before Mekeli Wesley's bank-shot ended the drought with 6:24 on the clock. The Rebels dominated every statistical category before the break. They outrebounded the Cougars by an astounding 23-10 margin, including a 10-1 edge on the offensive glass.

"Basically they just took it to us, we were never in it," Cleveland said.

Although BYU finally found a way to score in the second half, the final numbers didn't look much better. They finished the night with 40-percent shooting, compared to UNLV's 52. The Rebels also doubled up BYU on the glass, 42-21.

Even when the Cougars ended their scoring drought in the first half, UNLV turned it up a notch. It started with a Johnson dunk off a half-court, alley-oop pass from Diggs with 3:06 before intermission. A minute later it was Diggs with a breakaway layup, followed by dazzling passing display with 1:33. Johnson and Diggs pulled off three touch passes under the hoop before dishing off the finisher to Brotherson.

The rout was on. Just like the old days.

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

Brigham Young vs UNLV

03/11/00 7:06 PM at Las Vegas, Nevada

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VISITORS: Brigham Young 20-10

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 8-19 1-4 2-3 3 3 6 5 19 2 0 1 0 34

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... f 0-2 0-0 2-2 0 0 0 1 2 0 1 1 0 31

42 COOPER, Nathan...... f 1-2 0-0 0-1 0 2 2 2 2 0 2 0 0 16

13 VRANES, Michael..... g 1-3 1-2 0-0 0 1 1 4 3 5 1 0 0 26

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 6-14 1-3 5-6 1 4 5 1 18 0 3 1 0 36

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... 4-8 0-2 0-0 0 1 1 0 8 2 2 0 0 16

05 ROBERTS, Marc....... 1-3 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 0 2 0 0 0 1 11

10 ALLEN, John......... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 7

20 TAGGART, Nick....... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 2 2 0 2 3 1 0 0 9

50 NIELSEN, David...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 2 0 0 3 0 2 13

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

Totals.............. 21-53 3-12 11-14 6 15 21 15 56 12 13 3 3 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 6-19 .316 2nd Half: 15-34 .441 Game: .396 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 1-6 .167 2nd Half: 2-6 .333 Game: .250 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 3-5 .600 2nd Half: 8-9 .889 Game: .786 1

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HOME TEAM: UNLV 23-7

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

05 BROTHERSON, Danny... f 6-11 0-3 2-3 3 5 8 3 14 2 0 0 2 30

10 JOHNSON, Dalron..... f 7-11 2-3 2-2 2 6 8 2 18 4 1 0 1 30

34 KAMBALA, Kaspars.... c 5-10 0-0 5-6 2 5 7 1 15 2 2 0 0 23

03 DIGGS, Trevor....... g 6-9 3-6 5-6 1 0 1 2 20 3 2 0 0 34

11 DICKEL, Mark........ g 3-5 1-3 3-3 0 1 1 3 10 7 2 0 1 34

01 POPOOLA, Chris...... 0-0 0-0 0-0 1 2 3 0 0 0 0 0 0 2

12 BOOKER, Vince....... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 5

13 DOTSON, Sylvester... 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 1 2 0 2 2 1 12

14 STEWART, Donovan.... 0-3 0-0 0-0 2 2 4 2 0 0 0 0 1 11

20 RICHARDSON, Chris... 0-2 0-1 0-1 1 2 3 1 0 1 2 1 0 14

33 EPPS, Issiah........ 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 2 0 0 3 2 0 5

TEAM................ 1 2 3 1

Totals.............. 28-54 6-16 17-21 14 28 42 17 79 19 15 5 6 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 16-33 .485 2nd Half: 12-21 .571 Game: .519 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-9 .333 2nd Half: 3-7 .429 Game: .375 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 8-11 .727 2nd Half: 9-10 .900 Game: .810 1

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Officials: David Hall, Scott Thornley, Mark Reischling

Technical fouls: Brigham Young-None. UNLV-None.

Attendance: 14237

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

Brigham Young................. 16 40 - 56

UNLV.......................... 43 36 - 79

Mountain West Conference Championship game

BYU (20-10 7-7)

UNLV (23-7, 10-4)