for this game

BYU avenges earlier loss, downs San Diego State

Mar 15, 2008 - 6:16 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- On its way to the championship game, Brigham Young had to attend to some unfinished business.

Lee Cummard scored 20 points and Trent Plaisted added 19 for the 23rd-ranked Cougars en route to a 63-54 victory over San Diego State in a Mountain West Conference semifinal game on Friday.

BYU (27-6) moved into the conference finals for the second straight season against Nevada-Las Vegas (25-7) and avenged one of its two regular-season conference losses. The win also allows the Cougars to make their fourth title game in the nine-year existence of the Mountain West tournament.

UNLV won the second semifinal game on Friday against Utah, 61-55, setting up a rematch of the title game last season that the Rebels won, 78-70.

Following a jumper from Lorrenzo Wade that moved the Aztecs to within 36-35 with 13:10 remaining, Plaisted and Cummard combined to scored the final 12 points of a 17-7 run that gave the Cougars their biggest lead of the game at 53-42 with 4:17 left in the game.

"Both of these players have so much experience," said BYU coach Dave Rose of Cummard and Plaisted. "They're both juniors, but they've both started since they were freshmen. Sometimes, when there seems to be a little more at stake, they feel a little more comfortable than less experienced players.

"What I really like about these two players and our two seniors, Ben Murdock and Sam Burgess, is that they really take ownership and they compete. There are times when we're in the huddle in timeouts and I don't really need to say a lot because they're encouraging each other and they're challenging each other. That's a great feeling to have as a coach."

San Diego State made one final push to get to within six points at 58-52 with 31 seconds remaining, but Cummard, Burgess and Murdock hit five of the final six free throws down the stretch to preserve the win.

BYU, which entered the game as the highest-scoring team in the league, was held more than 11 points under its season average.

"I think that we did a good job of trying to speed up," Rose said. "The problem is we didn't finish. We turned the ball over seven times in the first half. And we got ourselves in too big of a hurry.

"So we really felt that in the second half we wanted to take advantage of opportunities. But I think we were a little more patient offensively. The last 10 minutes I thought we really executed well in the half-court (and) were able to capitalize on some real big plays that our guys made."

However, the Cougars made up for the lack of points by overcoming their season-long struggles at the foul line. BYU, which was the worst foul-shooting team in the conference at 65 percent, hit 76 percent (16-of-21) of its attempts in this contests.

Ryan Amoroso led the Aztecs with 18 points.