FORT WORTH, Texas Lee Cummard refused to let TCU end BYU's regular season with a big "oops" on Saturday night.
Instead, the junior forward canned two buckets in the final four minutes to lift the No. 24-ranked Cougars to a 61-54 win over the Frogs in Daniel-Meyer Coliseum, ending BYU's regular season with a little more juice heading into Las Vegas.
"Huge, just huge shots from the league's MVP," said Cougar sophomore Jonathan Tavernari, who led the Cougars with 17 points. Cummard, who had eight rebounds, scored 16.
The win lifted the Cougars to its best regular season record ever, 25-6, and set a new standard in the Mountain West for league wins at 14. TCU dropped to 14-15 and 6-10.
The No. 1-seeded Cougars now get the winner of Wednesday's Mountain West Tournament play-in game between Wyoming and Colorado State. BYU's next game tips off Thursday at noon in the Thomas & Mack Center at Las Vegas .
"I'm proud of the way our guys handled a very emotional week with a final win at home and regular-season championship," said Rose. "For nine or 10 minutes of the second half, we were off and struggled, nothing was working, but our defense continued to keep us going."
The Cougars raced to a 32-22 lead on long-range shots by Sam Burgess and Tavernari and created havoc for the Frogs on defense, keeping TCU from making a field goal for more than eight minutes in the first half. Trent Plaisted (nine points, six rebounds) got two quick fouls and sat out almost half of the first 20 minutes. That placed a premium on BYU's outside shooters and transition game to carry the offense.
And that faded, only to return when it counted.
BYU then struggled to score in the second half and TCU used its rebounding advantage and three quick steals to rip off a 9-0 run. TCU took a 46-44 lead with 9:15 to play on a 3-point make by Keion Mitchem, and the Cougars were in a real dogfight.
BYU made seven 3-pointers in the first half but went 0-5 from that range after intermission until Cummard's big 3-ball.
"It was frustrating," said Tavernari, who hit 6 of his 15 shots on the night, including 2-of-7 from beyond the arc. "We're a team used to scoring in the 70s and 80s, not 60s."
After TCU tied the game at 43, Cummard, Burgess, Plaisted and Ben Murdock combined to make 6-of-8 free throws to etch BYU out a 50-47 advantage at the 5:06 mark and to set up Cummard's heroic, killer 3-point shot.
"It didn't feel very good but it went in," said Cummard. "I think it put everyone at ease, especially myself, that it went in."
Following a pair of Tavernari free throws, Cummard backed his 3-point make two minutes later with a lay-in off a curl screen finger-roll down the lane with 1:40 to play. They were the only two field goals BYU made during more than a six-minute stretch at crunch time when BYU went on a 12-1 run. The Cummard's basket gave BYU a 54-49 lead, which was not threatened by the fading Frogs down the wire.
"I thought it was a highly intensified and competitive game, it really was," said TCU coach Neil Dougherty.
"The difference was, I didn't like the way it was officiated and I don't think BYU liked the way it was officiated, but they (BYU) handled it better than we did down the stretch."
BYU outscored TCU by 10 from the free-throw line and had 10 more tries at the stripe. Ryan Wall led TCU with 15 points.
"Overall, they handled it better down the stretch. Our kids competed. They were doing what we asked them to do, we just needed to make more shots," said Dougherty.
"BYU showed once again why they are conference champs. They just continue to play. It would be easy, and I've been on that side, for a team that had already clinched a championship to fold against a pesky team that's hanging around, hanging around, but they did what they needed to do down the stretch to win."
Rose praised Burgess for his defense on TCU guard Brent Hackett, playing in his final home game of his career (4-of-11, 11 points) and singled out freshman Michael Loyd for his 17 minutes of play with four rebounds, three assists and two steals."I thought Sam did an excellent job with Hackett and Loyd played big minutes for us as Ben (Murdock) is still nursing that ankle," said Rose.
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