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Cougars come up short in Vegas

Published February 21, 2009 11:37 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Brigham Young's misery at the Thomas & Mack Center continued on Saturday night, only this time the culprits were not so much guys such as Wink Adams, Joe Darger and Rene Rougeau.

Ever hear of Kendall Wallace and Mareceo Rutledge?

Hot as they were entering the showdown against UNLV, the Cougars couldn't match the Rebels' execution and bench play in the second half and fell 75-74 in front of one of the largest crowds in arena history, 18,523.

It was UNLV's first sellout in 16 years.

BYU dropped to 8-4 in Mountain West Conference play, a full two games behind league-leading Utah, and almost certainly must win at San Diego State on Tuesday to have any hope of getting at least a piece of the league title.

UNLV, which lost by 11 at Wyoming on Wednesday night, improved to 8-5 in league play and showed that it may be rather average away from the T & M, but will be a difficult out in next month's MWC conference tournament.

Trailing most of the second half, the Cougars staged a frenzied rally late in the game, and Lee Cummard's three-pointer with three seconds left cut the UNLV lead to one. However, the Cougars couldn't catch the Rebels after than, and Adams was able to dribble out the clock.

Some unlikely heroes helped UNLV pull away in the second half, both off the bench.

Wallace scored eight straight points after the score was tied 37-37. Then Rutledge hit a big three-pointer with 8:52 remaining to put the Rebels up 51-43 and force BYU coach Dave Rose into calling a timeout.

A moment later, Rutledge added a three-point play, drawing a foul on Chris Miles.

Down the stretch, Adams finally heated up to keep the Cougars at bay until the final few minutes.

While the Rebels shot much percent in the second half to snap BYU's five-game winning streak, the Cougars were unable to stay with them when it mattered most. Four of five possessions went empty while UNLV was pulling away.

The Cougars pulled within six, 68-62, with 1:33 remaining and got the ball back, but Lee Cummard's driving layup rolled out. Jonathan Tavernari's three-pointer cut the lead to 74-71 with about nine seconds remaining, but freshman Oscar Bellfield made one of two free throws, and that proved to be the difference.Cummard finished with 20 points to lead BYU, while Adams had 22 for UNLV.

In the first half, the Cougars missed their first seven shots and hadn't scored by the first media timeout (15:53), but weren't in bad shape because UNLV had only four points.

By the 10-minute mark, it was 12-12, thanks to an 8-0 BYU run fueled by Cummard. But Cummard didn't score in the last 11 minutes of the half. The player he shared co-MWC preseason player of the year honors with, UNLV's Adams, took awhile to get going, too. Adams didn't score until 5:01 remained in the first half, but his basket sparked a 7-2 Rebels run, and UNLV went into halftime with a 23-21 lead.

UNLV's Rene Rougeau scored just before the halftime buzzer, after Jackson Emery went for a steal and came up empty.

Both teams shot poorly in the first half, with the Cougars at 32 percent (10-for-31) and the Rebels at 29 percent (8-for-27 percent). No player on either team had more than six points in the ugly first half, and the Rebels had eight turnovers.

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UNLV 75, BYU 74

IN SHORT » The Cougars lose to UNLV for the sixth straight time in Las Vegas

KEY MOMENT » Backup guard Kendall Wallace scores eight straight points for the Rebels in the second half.

KEY STAT » The Cougars make just six three-pointers.