Marsh scores 20 points, helps Lobos survive second-half stumble

LAS VEGAS -- Dionne Marsh got hot after picking up her fourth foul.

Marsh scored 13 of her 20 points over the final six minutes of New Mexico's 63-49 win over Brigham Young in the Mountain West women's championship Saturday, leading the Lobos to their sixth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament.

"You know, I hate to say this, but Dionne plays better when she's mad," Lobos coach Don Flanagan said after the Lobos (23-8) won their fourth conference crown in five years. "She got mad at her fourth foul. As soon as she got mad, she got motivated."

And it was all over for the Cougars (23-9), who lost for the fifth time in six trips to the conference championship.

Marsh quickly shed her biggest rival, Cougars center Dani Kubik Wright, who fouled out with five minutes left after scoring five points on 2-of-10 shooting.

Wright missed the front end of the one-and-one when Marsh was whistled for the fourth time, leaving the Lobos clinging to a 43-42 lead with six minutes to go.

Wright was whistled for her fourth foul 19 seconds later and Marsh sank both of her free throws for a 45-42 lead.

On the Lobos' next possession, the Cougars collapsed.

Wright fouled out and Jennie Keele was whistled for a technical for saying something to the officials. Although Julie Briody (14 points) missed both technical foul shots, Marsh sank both of hers for a 47-42 lead with 5:14 remaining.

"Sometimes a technical can fire your team up," BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. "I kind of thought when that happened maybe it would. But it kind of backfired a little bit."

Mallary Gillespie, who led the Cougars with 17 points, sank a 3-pointer to make it a two-point game but Marsh scored nine more points with her nemesis on the bench as the Lobos closed out the game on a 14-2 run.

"It was real hard to watch," Wright said. "It's like you failed your team. Marsh kind of turned it up at the end."

And the Cougars were helpless to stop it.

"I don't know if they were rattled because Kubik's fouled out a lot of games this year," Judkins said. "I think the way she fouled out, the way the ref called it, the crucial part of the game, just maybe that was upsetting to them. I thought we'd be fine."

Not even close.

"Having your best player foul out gives the other team a lot of momentum," Gillespie said.

Which is why the Lobos were so relieved that it was Wright and not Marsh going to the bench with five fouls.

"They always look for her during pressure moments," Lobos senior Timi E-Nunu said. "So, for her to be 2-for-10 and then fouling out was a very good thing for us. We knew right then that we had to take it at them and keep attacking."

New Mexico jumped out to a 30-17 lead in the opening minutes of the second half before the Cougars charged back to make a game of it behind Gillespie, Shaw Slade, who scored 14, and Lauren Riley, who had 10 points and 14 rebounds.