Cummard Goes for 25, Fouls Plague Pokes

The Cowboys kept things close for most of the game, but they had few answers for Lee Cummard down the stretch. It didn't help that their two centers played a combined 17 minutes, either. BYU's "Mr. Everything" took over in crunch time to lead the Cougars past a foul-frustrated Wyoming squad on Saturday…

LARAMIE, Wyo. -- Brad Jones assured reporters that Lee Cummard wasn't a mismatch for the Cowboys.

"He just knocked down shots on a couple breakdowns and miscues," Jones said. "That's what good players do."

And Cummard did it enough times to bury Wyoming's two-game winning streak on Saturday--mismatch or not. The junior scored 25 points on 8-of-13 shooting and pulled down eight rebounds to lead BYU to a 73-63 victory.

The Cougars' leading scorer got things started early, knocking down a 3-pointer and a layup and dishing out an assist as BYU built a 20-10 lead over the first nine minutes of the game. The Pokes answered with a 21-8 run to take a 3-point lead with just more than three minutes remaining in the period, but Cummard took over once again, scoring the final five points of the half, including a 3-pointer with two seconds left that gave the Cougars a 37-35 advantage at the break.

"We got some good looks right before halftime," Cummard said. "They made a little run before the end of the half and got up on us, and we started running sets to try to get good looks."

The 6-foot-7 wingman scored the first bucket of the second half and hit another jumper with 13:27 to play before picking up his fourth foul and sitting out the next four minutes.

With the Cougars' star on the bench, the Cowboys clawed their way within 54-53 midway through the second half.

But the player Cougar fans refer to as "Mr. Everything" re-entered the game with nine minutes to go and scored nine of BYU's final 17 points. His conventional 3-point play with 2:32 remaining highlighted a 14-4 run that put the game out of reach.

"The thing that impressed me a lot about him is that he doesn't force things," UW head coach Heath Schroyer said of Cummard. "He lets the game come to him. They do a nice job of getting the ball in the post and finding him on split screens and stuff like that.

"He is very, very good."

Good, but he got some help from a few of his teammates as well—especially when he was in foul trouble. Trent Plaisted scored nine of his 17 points in the second half, including eight after Cummard picked up his fourth foul.

"Our team depends a lot on Lee," BYU head coach Dave Rose said, "but I think Trent Plaisted was really, really good. He played a lot of minutes for us, rebounded the basketball well and was able to protect the basket without fouling."

That wasn't the case for the Cowboys. Despite outscoring the Cougars 48-22 in the paint, Wyoming struggled to keep its big men on the floor.

Mikhail Linskens, who shared the assignment of guarding Plaisted with the Pokes' other post players, picked up two fouls in the first 47 seconds of the game and ended up playing just 11 minutes. Plaisted drew two more fouls in the next three minutes and shot 11 free throws total on the day. Center Travis Nelson scored six points for the Pokes, but he picked up five fouls in just six minutes of playing time.

The Cowboys put the shorter Joseph Taylor on the Cougars' 6-foot-11 big man down the stretch, and while Taylor ended up scoring eight points and pulling down 12 rebounds, he also finished the game with four fouls.

"It's really frustrating. I'll just leave it at that," Schroyer said. "Not being able to play Travis Nelson and Mikhail and those guys. Travis Nelson got five fouls in six minutes, so that's tough."

The frustration was visible on the face of Jones, who led the Cowboys with 13 points. And he and his teammates were a bit more candid than their coach about the foul calls against the Cowboys' big men.

"Looking at the score sheet, I see that our two 7-footers only played six minutes and 11 minutes," Jones said. "There's not really much we could do when we got 6-5 guarding 7-foot out there."

"It was kind of hard because (we) didn't really know…what we (could) do against Plaisted," said Tyson Johnson, who had 12 points and seven rebounds. "We stayed straight up, and they called fouls.

"It hurt a lot. Travis (Nelson) is a big part of this team. We need him in the game and in the clutch, and being in foul trouble, he can't help us."

But the Cowboys were hurt by more than just fouls. BYU held Wyoming scoreless from beyond the arc (0-for-15) while hitting eight 3-pointers in the game.

"It's a very good shooting team," Rose said of UW. "I think one of the parts of our game plan was to try to get out and contest some shots, but I think that maybe we just caught them on a bad shooting night, which was good for us."

Good for the Cougars and bad for the Pokes, who fell to 8-12 overall and 2-6 in Mountain West Conference play. BYU meanwhile, improved to 17-5 and 6-1—a half game ahead of UNLV, which hosts New Mexico at home tonight with a chance to tie the Cougars for the top spot in the league.

The Cowboys will be back in action on Wednesday to take on Cal State-Bakersfield at 7 p.m. in the Arena Auditorium. And while the game won't affect the Pokes' conference record, a win is still a win, Brandon Ewing said.

"Every game is a must-win," said the UW point guard, who scored 12 points and tied a career high with nine assists against the Cougars. "We're going to go hard at them like we were playing New Mexico or BYU. We definitely got to do that because we need to win."

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