Adams, UNLV capture second straight MWC titleMar 16, 2008 - 3:13 AM LAS VEGAS (Ticker) -- For the second straight year, UNLV rallied past Brigham Young in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
Wink Adams scored 23 points as UNLV stormed back from a double-digit deficit to defeat No. 23 BYU, 76-61, on Saturday.
Curtis Terry added 20 points for the Runnin' Rebels (26-7), who held the Cougars to just 32 percent (8-of-25) shooting in the second half.
"Awfully proud for our guys," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "I thought they just did a great job. I thought BYU had control in the first half. And I thought that flipped and we got control early in the second half."
In last season's final, BYU blew a 14-point lead as UNLV came back to win, 78-70. In this one, the Cougars had led by as many as 11 in the first half.
After trailing by four points at the break, UNLV went on a 10-0 run - capped by consecutive 3-pointers from Joe Darger - early in the second half to take a 45-38 bulge with 17:23 remaining.
The Cougars (27-7) had rallied to tie the game at 47-47, but the Runnin' Rebels again went in front and later scored five straight points from the foul line to push the lead up to 58-50 with 5:56 left to play.
BYU could get only as close as six the rest of the way as UNLV made 7-of-8 free throws down the stretch.
"I thought it was a hard-fought game," BYU coach Dave Rose said. "Both teams played really well. They (UNLV) played with a lot of energy in the second half, made a lot of big plays. I think that energy level in the second half was a big difference."
Adams scored 16 of his points in the second half, shooting 8-of-15 from the floor, including 4-of-5 from the arc. The junior was named the tournament's Most Valuable Player.
"My teammates believed in me, told me to keep shooting," Adams said. "I was just able to knock them down for my team."
"Wink is not shy about stepping up there," Kruger said. "He likes that role, that responsibility. Couldn't be happier for him."
The Cougars took their largest lead of the game midway through the first half, using a 17-3 run to take a 23-12 lead with 10:29 left in the half.
But the Rebels fought back, cutting the deficit to as little as three, and only trailed, 37-33, at the break after a putback by Mareceo Rutledge before the buzzer.
Jimmer Fredette scored 17 points off the bench to pace the Cougars, who were outrebounded, 36-25.
"They stepped up and hit some big shots," Fredette said. "It's not like we weren't playing hard, playing good 'D'. We were trying to get out to their shots. They were just able to stick them tonight."
- MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMP
AT LAS VEGAS
NCAA BB MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMP
FINAL 1ST 2ND TOTAL
--- --- -----
UNLV 33 43 76
BYU (23) 37 24 61 FINAL
Mar 15 9:00 PM
- MOUNTAIN WEST CHAMP
AT LAS VEGAS
NCAA BB UNLV 33
(23) BYU 37 HALFTIME
Mar 15 7:52 PM
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