New Mexico
70 - 69 Final - OT
  for this game

Plaisted's late free throws lift BYU

Feb 27, 2008 - 6:39 AM ALBUQUERQUE, New Mexico (Ticker) -- Trent Plaisted's two free throws with five seconds to play in overtime proved to be the difference as No. 25 Brigham Young survived at New Mexico, 70-69, in a Mountain West Conference thriller on Tuesday.

Plaisted scored 23 points and Lee Cummard had 14 as the Cougars bounced back from a 69-65 defeat at San Diego State on Saturday, which snapped their nine-game winning streak.

With the win, BYU (22-6, 11-2 MWC) remains in first place in the conference, one game ahead of UNLV (10-3), which defeated San Diego State earlier Tuesday. It also was the third straight season sweep of the Lobos.

"I was just really proud of how they battled," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "It was competitive and back and forth and kind of what we expected in this game, and the guys just gave it everything they have. We made one more play. We are fortunate."

After the game was tied at 63-63 heading into overtime, the Lobos took a 67-66 lead midway through the extra period on a jumper from J.R. Giddens with 2:55 to play.

A pair of free throws by Dairese Gary extended New Mexico's lead to three with just over one minute remaining, but Sam Burgess converted two foul shots for BYU, which then got the ball back after a miss by Giddens with 30 seconds left.

After using most of the clock, Plaisted was fouled by Monquel Pegues. The senior, who was shooting 54 percent from the line coming into the game, calmly made both foul shots to give the Cougars a 70-69 advantage.

"I take my hat off to BYU ... that was a great college basketball game," New Mexico coach Steve Alford said. "I appreciate the fans, I thought it was a tremendous atmosphere. There aren't too many atmospheres like this in college basketball."

The Cougars were 19-of-28 from the line as a team and scored all seven of their points in overtime from the stripe.

New Mexico's Jamaal Smith and Giddens each had a chance for the win in the final seconds, but their jumpers were off the mark.

"I thought our kids battled," Alford said. "I told them from Day One that I would never be upset with missed shots if they were good shots. We got great effort tonight."

Giddens finished with 30 points on 12-of-26 shooting with seven rebounds and three blocks for the Lobos (22-3, 9-5), who had their six-game winning streak snapped.

With the game tied late in regulation, Cummard gave BYU a two-point lead, but Giddens answered with a three-point play to give New Mexico a 63-62 lead with 1:04 to play.

Chris Collinsworth then tied the contest, making 1-of-2 free throws, and Gary's jumper for the Lobos with three seconds left was off the mark, sending the game into overtime.

"We had some guys really step up and make plays," Rose said. "I think our guys did a good job of challenging, but they had some open looks. You just want your players to fight through whatever was presented to them and tonight we were able to make one more play."

The Cougars held a 20-11 lead midway through the first half but New Mexico rallied back to take a 33-29 lead at the break. Giddens had 14 in the first half to pace the Lobos.

BYU stayed close but could not take the lead in the second half, cutting the deficit to as little as 49-48 with 8:31 remaining.

Back-to-back 3-pointers by Roman Martinez and Jonathan Wills gave the Lobos a 55-48 bulge with 7:22 left to play

New Mexico outscored BYU, 42-24, in the paint but shot just 3-of-21 from the arc and made 14-of-22 free throws.

"That's the worst 3-point shooting we've had all year and we still only lose by one point to the best team in our league," Alford said. "We had a lot of open looks and they are a very good defensive team."