Wesley, Cooper Lead Cougars to Victory over the Falcons | The Official Site of BYU Athletics

Wesley, Cooper Lead Cougars to Victory over the Falcons

PROVO -- Starting his first game of the season, Nathan Cooper responded with 14 points while Mekeli Wesley scored a game-high 18 to lead BYU to a 73-52 win over Air Force Thursday in the Marriott Center.

Cooper, who had not scored in the three previous games, reached double figures for the first time in five games and the seventh time on the year. He made 6-9 field goals, including 2-3 three-pointers, while playing 29 minutes.

Wesley, who led the Cougars in scoring for the 15th time this year, scored 14 first-half points to help the Cougars take a 35-29 advantage into the break. BYU then took complete control in the second half, holding Air Force without a point for the first eight minutes while building a 16-point lead. The Cougars never looked back, creating a bulge as high as 24 on five occasions while making a season-best 61.2 percent of their shots for the game. BYU shot better than 60 percent in each half.

Terrell Lyday joined Wesley and Cooper in double figures with 10 points. Wesley and Lyday have now reached double figures in 24 of 26 games this year, including the last 16 and 15 straight games, respectively. Michael Vranes had seven points while Matt Montague came off the bench with six along with redshirt freshman David Nielsen, who played a season-high 16 minutes.

Air Force played well in the first half, making 48 percent from the floor, but could not find the mark in the final 20 minutes. The Falcons made only 4-24 field goals, 16.7 percent, as the Cougar lead expanded. Jarvis Croff led the Falcons with 17 points and Miguel Garcia added 11.

Playing without its second leading rebounder, Silester Rivers, who is out for the year after having surgery on his left knee earlier this week, BYU managed to out rebound the equally small Falcons, 32-29. The Cougars, who are now 12-0 when they out rebound their opponent, were also led on the boards by Wesley with seven while Cooper added four.

With the win, BYU is now 17-9 on the year and 6-7 in the Mountain West Conference. The Cougars, who play San Diego State at home Saturday in their final regular season game, will be either the fifth or sixth seed in next week's Mountain West Tournament and still have a chance to qualify for a post-season tournament.

Air Force dropped to 8-18 on the year and 4-9 in conference play. The Falcons play at Utah on Saturday.

POST-GAME COACHES QUOTES

Air Force coach Reggie Minton:

"You've got to give [BYU] credit...and we've got to take some of the blame; some of the shots we had we've gotta make. Kudos to BYU, but you can't' shoot 16 percent and expect to be close at the end.

You know you've gotta come and bring your "A" game and we didn't have it tonight. [Mekeli] Wesley was hot as a firecracker early and we didn't want that. BYU, if they get another win, they should be in the NIT."

BYU coach Steve Cleveland:

"Overall, I thought we did a solid job, and it's just good to get a win. I haven't been outside my house for five days, and I haven't been shopping in six."

"Had we played this game last week, maybe everybody would have a different feeling about things. The bottom line is, we got really good performances tonight. It was great to see Nate [Cooper] step up and have a confident night. I made a decision about two o'clock this afternoon to start Nate. The reason was I felt he would not be beat off the dribble with Garcia. I thought that he, Nate, was going to break out of a slump."

"Mekeli was solid tonight, and so was Vranes. I believe that Michael [Vranes] is playing the best basketball of anybody on this team. He has so much energy, and is defending. We also got a great performance out of Matt [Montague]. Terrell did not have the energy he generally has, and it was nice to have a win without him having a good night."

POST-GAME NOTES

• Nathan Cooper started for the first time this year. After not scoring in the last three games, Cooper scored 14 points, the seventh time he has reached double figures this year and the first time in the last five games. His 14 points is one off his season high and the most he has scored in the last 15 games (14 vs. UCI).

• Mekeli Wesley and Terrell Lyday extended their streak for consecutive games scoring double figures to 16 and 15 games respectively. Each has had double-digit points in 24 of 26 games this year.

• David Nielson played a season and career best 16 minutes, and equaled his career high with 6 points. He has appeared in 13 of 26 games this year, including the last three straight, and 7 of the last 10.

• BYU finished the night with a season high .612 field goal percentage.

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

AIR FORCE ACADEMY vs BYU

3/2/00 7:35 at Provo, Utah

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VISITORS: AIR FORCE ACADEMY 8-18, 4-9 MWC

TOT-FG 3-PT REBOUNDS

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

04 GARCIA, Miguel...... f 4-6 0-1 3-4 0 6 6 1 11 2 0 0 1 32

32 BELLAIRS, Tom....... f 2-7 0-0 4-4 6 3 9 3 8 1 2 0 0 30

33 WRIGHT, Tyron....... f 2-8 0-1 3-5 2 0 2 2 7 0 3 0 0 34

22 JENKINS, Vernard.... g 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 1 1 2 0 4 4 0 0 27

24 CROFF, Jarvis....... g 6-19 4-11 1-2 0 2 2 3 17 0 1 0 1 31

02 MANSELL, Selwyn..... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 6

12 YAZZIE, Lamoni...... 0-2 0-1 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 1 0 0 2 3

13 ROUX, Jaron......... 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1

20 ELLEBY, Matt........ 2-2 1-1 0-0 0 1 1 0 5 0 0 0 1 3

21 YAZZIE, Lawrence.... 1-4 0-3 0-1 0 1 1 1 2 1 0 0 0 15

30 NICHOLSON, Byron.... 0-0 0-0 2-2 0 2 2 1 2 0 0 0 0 7

35 CHRISTENSEN, Shawn.. 0-0 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 0 0 0 4

44 HUMPHREY, Billy..... 0-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 1 0 0 2 0 0 7

TEAM................ 2 2 4

Totals.............. 17-51 5-18 13-18 11 18 29 16 52 9 12 0 5 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 13-27 .481 2nd Half: 4-24 .167 Game: .333 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-9 .333 2nd Half: 2-9 .222 Game: .278 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 0-0 .000 2nd Half: 13-18 .722 Game: .722 2

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HOME TEAM: BYU 17-9, 6-7 MWC

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 8-14 0-1 2-4 1 6 7 4 18 1 2 0 0 31

42 COOPER, Nathan...... f 6-9 2-3 0-0 2 2 4 3 14 3 1 0 0 29

04 CHRISTENSEN, Todd... g 1-2 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 2 1 0 0 0 17

13 VRANES, Michael..... g 3-6 1-2 0-0 0 2 2 2 7 3 2 0 0 28

24 LYDAY, Terrell...... g 4-8 1-2 1-1 0 3 3 1 10 5 1 0 0 30

05 ROBERTS, Marc....... 0-0 0-0 2-4 0 1 1 0 2 0 2 0 0 3

10 ALLEN, John......... 1-1 0-0 2-2 0 3 3 0 4 0 1 0 0 5

20 TAGGART, Nick....... 0-1 0-0 0-0 0 0 0 1 0 0 1 0 0 3

25 NIELSEN, Eric....... 1-2 0-0 0-0 1 1 2 3 2 0 1 0 0 15

31 MONTAGUE, Matt...... 3-3 0-0 0-0 0 2 2 2 6 2 0 0 2 20

34 ELLSWORTH, Joe...... 1-1 0-0 0-0 1 0 1 0 2 0 0 0 0 3

50 NIELSEN, David...... 2-2 0-0 2-4 0 2 2 2 6 1 1 0 0 16

TEAM................ 1 4 5

Totals.............. 30-49 4-8 9-15 6 26 32 19 73 16 12 0 2 200

TOTAL FG% 1st Half: 16-26 .615 2nd Half: 14-23 .609 Game: .612 DEADBALL

3-Pt. FG% 1st Half: 3-5 .600 2nd Half: 1-3 .333 Game: .500 REBOUNDS

F Throw % 1st Half: 0-0 .000 2nd Half: 9-15 .600 Game: .600 1

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Officials: David Hall, Jim Stupin, Verne Harris

Technical fouls: AIR FORCE ACADEMY-None. BYU-None.

Attendance: 9022

Score by Periods 1st 2nd Total

AIR FORCE ACADEMY............. 29 23 - 52

BYU........................... 35 38 - 73