Cowboys Edged By BYU In MWC Tourney

March 11, 2004

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By JOHN MOSSMAN
AP Sports Writer

DENVER (AP) - Luiz Lemes scored 16 of his 18 points in the second half,helping BYU hold off Wyoming 79-74 Thursday in the quarterfinals of theMountain West tournament.

BYU, the No. 2 seed, will meet Utah in Friday's semifinals. Utah, the thirdseed, beat San Diego State 75-69.

Rafael Araujo added 17 points and 14 rebounds for BYU (21-7), and MarkBigelow and Mike Hall each had 13 points. It was the Cougars' ninth straightwin.

Mikel Watson had 21 points and Jay Straight 11 to lead Wyoming (11-17), theNo. 7 seed.

BYU, which led 32-27 at halftime, mounted a 13-5 run, including six pointsby Hall and five by Lemes, to forge a 52-40 lead midway through the secondhalf.

Wyoming responded with eight straight points, capped by Watson's two freethrows, to cut the deficit to 57-53 with 5:28 remaining. The Cowboys got withinfour points on eight other occasions down the stretch but could get no closer.

Araujo scored nine points in the final 8:32, including a jump hook with 4:38left and two free throws with 3:00 to go.

Lemes hit a driving layup with 3:33 left and added a pull-up jumper in thelane with 2:30 to go, which put BYU up 69-63.

Wyoming was forced to foul, and the Cougars hit 7-of-8 free throws in thefinal minute.

Araujo, Bigelow and Jake Shoff each scored eight points in the first halffor BYU. Wyoming kept the score respectable despite shooting only 31 percentand committing nine turnovers.

The Cougars used an 8-0 run to build an early 14-7 lead. Araujo started thesurge with a rebound layup, then ended it with a short jumper.

Three minutes later, Shoff's jumper gave BYU its biggest lead, 18-10.

Wyoming twice cut the deficit to four points, the last time on Straight'sdriving layup with 5:23 remaining.

But Shoff, a bench player who averaged only 2.4 points this season,countered with back-to-back baskets, and BYU led 26-18.

Araujo, the conference's co-player of the year, sat out the last 4:10 of thehalf after picking up his second foul.