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Tavernari, BYU use late run to hold off pesky TCU

Mar 9, 2008 - 6:20 AM FORT WORTH, Texas (Ticker) -- Jonathan Tavernari scored 17 points as No. 24 Brigham Young used a late run to post a 61-54 victory over Texas Christian in the Mountain West Conference regular-season finale for both teams Saturday.

Lee Cummard had 16 points and eight rebounds and Sam Burgess chipped in 14 for BYU (25-6, 14-2 MWC), which has won 13 of its last 14 games and heads into next week's conference tournament as the top seed.

BYU capped its regular season by setting school and league record for wins.

"It's a special team," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "These players will be able to come back to BYU games and see that championship banner hanging there and remember this season forever. It's fun to coach special groups. Tonight, we were able to figure out a way to win. I'm really happy for our players and our coaching staff."

The Cougars held a 32-22 edge after 20 minutes, and pulled away with a 17-5 run that broke open a tie game.

Keion Mitchem hit a 3-pointer to give TCU a 46-44 lead with 9:22 left, but the Horned Frogs (14-15, 6-10) hit just one field goal the rest of the way.

BYU took advantage of the cold shooting and embarked on its decisive run. The Cougars hit 6-of-8 free throws during an 11-1 run that was capped by Cummard's 3-pointer with 3:36 left.

Kevin Langford sliced the lead to 57-49 with a pair of free throws, but Cummard answered with a layup to make it 59-49 with 1:46 left to effectively end the game.

The conference regular-season champion, BYU will play either Wyoming or Colorado State in its first game of the league tournament on Thursday.

Senior Ryan Wall scored 15 points in his final home game for TCU, which is the No. 7 seed and will face Nevada-Las Vegas in the upcoming tournament.

"They battled and competed," Horned Frogs coach Neil Doughtery said. "I'm 99 percent sure that this is the first senior game that I've coached in and we lost. I wished we could have done something different, but I will always remember how hard they played, in particular Ryan Wall, but all of them."

"It was Senior Night so everyone was pumped up for that," Wall said. "Everyone played well, and we fought and it was a good game back and forth. It would've been better if we had won, but you can't argue that we didn't do everything in our power to do that."

TCU fared better than its last game, when it scored a season-low 36 points in a 57-36 loss to Air Force on Wednesday.

"After the performance at Air Force, we came out and wanted to prove that we are better than that team that showed up last game," Wall said.