UNLV Cruises Past Cougars To Win MWC Tournament, 76-61
Wink Adams scored 23 points to lead UNLV.
March 15, 2008
LAS VEGAS (AP) - UNLV upset top-seeded and 24th-ranked BYU in the Mountain West Conference championship for the second straight season, routing the Cougars 76-61 Saturday night behind a flurry of great performances led by Wink Adams' 23-point show.
Adams was at his best down the stretch, scoring 14 points in the final 6:48, including a trio of 3-pointers, as the second-seeded Runnin' Rebels turned a close contest into a rout, racing to their second straight tournament title and the automatic NCAA bid that goes with it.
Curtis Terry added 20 points, Corey Bailey grabbed a career-best 11 rebounds and Rene Rougeau pulled down 10 boards for the Runnin' Rebels (26-7), who overcame an early double-digit deficit just like they did a year ago in beating the Cougars for the championship.
BYU (27-7) led by 11 midway through the first half before succumbing at the rockin' Thomas & Mack Center as the Runnin' Rebels went on an 18-3 run spanning halftime.
It was just the second loss in 17 games for BYU, which got 17 points from Jimmer Fredette but never got their two big stars, co-conference Player of the Year Lee Cummard and 7-foot center Trent Plaisted, into any offensive rhythm.
Cummard scored 11 points and Plaisted had nine.
Six of Rougeau's boards were on the offensive glass and helped neutralize Plaisted.
The Runnin' Rebels opened the second half with a 12-1 run to take a 45-38 lead. Joe Darger, who had a four-point play right before halftime, sank a 3-pointer from the left corner and another from the right corner during the run that got the red-clad UNLV crowd going crazy.
The Cougars never recovered, although they did hang close until the closing minutes.
Adams sank two free throws after being hammered by Chris Miles on a breakaway off a turnover, then added another at 5:56 to give UNLV its biggest lead, at 58-50.
Then, he sank three consecutive 3-pointers, helping him clinch tournament MVP honors. By the time his long-range onslaught was over, the Cougars were finished, trailing 67-58 with 3 1/2 minutes left.
Adams wasn't done, though. He added a finger-roll of a glide to the basket that might have been his prettiest play of the night.
In last year's championship here, the Cougars jumped out to a 37-26 halftime lead only to lose 78-70.
This time, the Cougars were up 35-27 with a minute to go in the first half, but the Runnin' Rebels didn't wait for the break to regroup.
Darger sank a 3-pointer while he was fouled by Cummard and the four-point play made it 35-31.
Mareceo Rutledge made an equally difficult shot with a putback at the buzzer to cut the Cougars' lead to 37-33 and give the Rebels the emotional edge heading into the locker room.