March 16, 2008 - 9:00 pm
What was a quiet game for UNLV’s Joe Darger took a dramatic turn, and it happened quickly.
The junior forward converted a four-point play late in the first half Saturday, and it was a significant moment in the Rebels’ 76-61 victory over Brigham Young at the Thomas & Mack Center.
"It got Joe going," UNLV coach Lon Kruger said. "Joe came back in the second half and knocked down two shots at a critical time."
Darger added two 3-pointers in a 30-second span early in the second half. He finished with 11 points to help the Rebels win the Mountain West Conference Tournament.
Darger, who had not scored in the game, drilled a 3-pointer from in front of the BYU bench and was fouled by Lee Cummard with 47 seconds left. Darger made the free throw to cut the Cougars’ lead to 35-31.
Mareceo Rutledge’s layup with one second to go in the half pulled UNLV within 37-33.
"It was big," Darger said. "They had an eight-point lead, and that four-point play and then Mareceo’s tip-in at the buzzer gave us the momentum going into the half.
• COUGARS COOL OFF — Sophomore forward Jonathan Tavernari scored the first eight points for the Cougars, who made their first five 3-point attempts and shot 8-for-11 while building a 23-12 lead.
Tavernari finished with 10 points on 4-for-13 shooting. BYU shot 60 percent (12-for-20) in the first half and 32 percent (8-for-25) in the second half.
"We came up a little short," Cougars coach Dave Rose said. "But in this situation, we came up a little bit short because UNLV played really, really well."
• FIRST TO TWO — The Rebels are the first team in the nine-year history of the MWC tournament to win back-to-back titles.
• TICKETS NEEDED? — The Rebels earned an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament, and fans wanting to purchase tickets can visit UNLVRebels.com to download the application form after the tournament field is set today.
After submitting the completed form, email notifications will be sent by noon Tuesday.
The NCAA allocates a limited number of tickets to each participating school.
A limited number of tickets will available for students and UNLV faculty/staff for purchase, and they must call 702-895-1223 between the hours of 8 a.m. and noon Monday.