ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. Trent Plaisted, haunted and terrorized by his own inner demons all season on the free throw line, calmly slipped in a pair of charity tosses with five seconds left as a packed crowd in The Pit screamed at him to choke.
The two makes were key in lifting BYU to a 70-69 emotionally packed overtime win over New Mexico Tuesday night before a sellout crowd of 18,018, After Lobo J.R. Giddens attempt at a inbounds tip with .1 second to play failed, the Cougars registered perhaps their first signature road win of the season.
BYU players rushed the floor, celebrating and hugging. Reserve center Chris Miles turned and yelled at the student section in The Pit who were taunting the Cougar bench and pelting the floor with debris.
The win lifted the Cougars to 22-6 overall, 11-2 in the Mountain West while the Lobos 'six-game win streak skidded to a halt. The win may give the Cougars a stranglehold on a solo title with games at home against Wyoming and Air Force and a lone road trip to Texas Christian to end the regular season.
Plaisted, who had his struggles on the night, led the Cougars in the second half and in overtime as the Lobos struggled to stop him once he got his touch going late in the game. Plaisted finished with 23 points.
The win saved BYU coach Dave Rose's career mark for never losing two conference games in a row and gave him a 6-0 career mark over the Lobos.
Giddens, who held the Lobos together all night, finished with 30 points and seven rebounds.
Sam Burgess, who tied a career high with nine boards, made each of four free throws in overtime to help the Cougars avoid melting down like they did at San Diego State on Saturday. BYU made 6-of-7 from the line in overtime and all their points in the extra session came from the stripe. Fredette, who made his share of mistakes, ended up playing the entire second half after starter Ben Murdock was injured seconds into the second stanza.
As Plaisted returned to the floor for an interview with TV, Lobo fans still in the arena booed the junior, who ended up scoring three points from the line in overtime and finished with 6 rebounds.
One fan followed Plaisted across the arena, taunting him as he made it to the radio table for a post game. As painful as this one was for UNM, it was exactly what the Cougars needed to cement a title.
Freshman Jimmer Fredette busted up New Mexico's attempt at a game-winning possession with 20 seconds left and the Lobos working the clock by stealing the ball from Jamaal Smith.
The rookie, however, lost the ball on BYU's attempt to win when he lost the handle on the baseline a few seconds later. Dairese Gary's last-gasp 14-footer on the other end missed, forcing overtime at 63 all.
The Cougars had fought back from a 58-52 deficit late in the second half by posting a 13-5 run to end the game and Lee Cummard, who hit a big three in that stretch, fouled out with a minute to play in regulation.
BYU raced to a 17-10 lead on the backs of Chris Collinsworth, Ben Murdock and Jonathan Tavernari 3-point shots in the opening eight minutes but the Lobos then outscored BYU 21-12 the rest of the half to lead 33-29 at the break.
The Lobo game plan appeared clear after watching SDSU beat the Cougars in Cox Arena by driving on the Cougar defense, forcing the action, while collecting 30 free throw attempts and Lorreno Wade posting a career high 28. The Lobos are a 3-point shooting team but they didn't make a bucket from beyond the arc until Dairese Gary found the range with 9:22 left in the first half.
The Cougar outshot the Lobos for most of the first half and after cooling off in the final eight minutes, held a 40 to 37 percent shooting advantage with 5 of 11 from 3-point land. The Lobos were 1 for 10 from 3-point land but drives by Giddens propelled UNM past the Cougars by the half. He had 14.
On BYU's end, the Cougars struggled to defend Giddens on the dribble with Cummard, Sam Burgess, and Chris Collinsworth taking turns. The Cougars kept trying to attack the Lobos with throws to the post but inside set ups to Plaisted and Cummard failed four times in the first 20 minutes on travel calls as the two juniors tried to maneuver in the paint under pressure.
BYU struggled to get Cummard shots in the first half (2 for 3) but he led the Cougars with seven.
Things got heated on both benches twice in the first half with Rose protesting no-calls on holds on Cummard away from the ball and an offensive foul on Jonathan Tavernari battling for position. A few minutes later when Cummard drew a foul from Johnnie Harris on the baseline, UNM coach Steve Alford protested enough to earn a technical. Cummard's conversion of the pair of free throws gave the Cougars a 25-24 lead with 6:17 left in the first half.
In the opening minute of the second half, Murdock left the game with an ankle sprain. Plaisted got his second and third foul of the game on back-to-back Lobo possessions trying to rebound UNM misses and sat down with 15:55 to play after scoring on back-to-back Cougar possessions. Sixty seconds later, Cummard sat with his third, grabbing Giddens on drive.Giddens scored on an offensive rebound on the ensuing inbounds play to give the Lobos a 40-33 lead. He'd scored all seven of UNM's points and that was his 21st.