Cougars unable to overcome slow start

first_imgE-mail: [email protected] BYU game at a glance Relatedcenter_img LAS VEGAS — This time the comeback fizzled for the BYU women’s basketball team.New Mexico answered the Cougars’ spirited second-half run with an amazing four-minute burst of their own to take a closer-than-it-looks 63-49 victory in the finals of the Mountain West Conference basketball tournament Saturday afternoon at the Thomas & Mack Center.For the Lobos, it is their fourth Mountain West Conference tournament championship in five years and puts them in the NCAA tournament for the sixth straight year.The Cougars, who were looking for their first tournament title since 2002, expect to get an NCAA berth when they are announced Monday.A day earlier the Cougars had found themselves down to Utah by five points with less than seven minutes to play, only to surge past them for a 55-49 victory.This time the Cougars trailed by just two with four minutes left but watched the Lobos score 14 straight points to put a quick end to their championship hopes.Lobo junior Dionne Marsh, who was the tourney MVP two years earlier as a freshman, was quiet for much of the game. But she turned it on when it counted and earned MVP honors again.She scored 13 of her game-high 20 points during the final six minutes when the Lobos put on their late spurt. She also finished with five rebounds, four steals and three assists.”It was such an evenly matched game that I wasn’t sure who was going to win with about four minutes left to go and then all of a sudden we separated in a hurry,” said New Mexico coach Don Flanagan.”They made the plays down the stretch when they had to,” said BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “Marsh hit some big baskets when they needed it. We had some opportunities and just didn’t quite seem to get it done.”Perhaps the key play of the game happened with UNM up 45-42 and just more than five minutes remaining. Marsh drove inside against BYU’s Dani Kubik Wright and made contact with Wright, who appeared to stand straight with her arms up.Both players had four fouls at the time, but Wright was whistled with the foul and then BYU’s Jennie Keele was called for a technical foul for apparently saying something to the official after the foul call.Marsh made the free throws and although Julie Briody missed the technical shots, the momentum seemed to shift to New Mexico.”Sometimes a technical can fire your team up, but it kind of backfired a bit,” said Judkins. “That foul went on Kubik and it fouled her out.”Judkins thought it could have just as well been called a foul on Marsh.”She had four fouls also, so it might have been a different situation,” he said.Marsh was certainly fired up from then on as her coach said later.”I hate to say this, but Dionne plays better when she’s mad,” Flanagan said. “She got mad at her fourth foul. As soon as she got mad, she got motivated.”Marsh scored on consecutive drives inside and after a drive by Katie Montgomery, scored on another drive and was fouled for a three-point play. That made it 56-47 with 2:42 left and the Cougars wouldn’t score again until the 19-second mark.Briody, who joined Marsh on the all-tournament team, scored 14 points, Montgomery scored 13 and Brandi Kimble had 10 points and nine rebounds.After their emotional win over Utah on Friday, the Cougars came out flat and couldn’t score, shooting just 20 percent in the first half when they trailed 27-17.They found their range in the second half when they shot 56 percent and gradually pecked away at the lead. A three-point play by Lauren Riley, who finished with 10 points and 14 rebounds, gave the Cougars their first lead of the night at 40-39 with 8:00 left. Others named to the all-tournament team along with Marsh and Briody were BYU’s Gillespie and Riley, and Wyoming’s Hanna Zavacz. last_img

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