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Tavernari takes Toolson’s record

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Andy Toolson might be the nicest guy on the planet, a man without guile, a modern day Sir Thomas More.

As good a man as Toolson is, in his day, he could shoot the round ball. He possessed as pretty a stroke as anyone's seen in Provo.

Toolson set BYU's all-time record for 3-point makes in a season (74) 18 years ago when Johnathan Tavernari was two years old, still in diapers.

It took Tavernari 23 games and eight minutes to send Toolson's mark to the gallows on a night he was blistering hot right out of the chute in BYU's final home game, a 78-61 win over Wyoming.

Tavernari made his first three shots from beyond the arc, all of them net snappers. His third toppled Toolson's mark. The standard now is 76.

Toolson who played for the Utah Jazz in 1995, was in the stands to witness BYU's win and to see his record change owners.

"I'm happy for him," said Toolson. "I knew a few weeks ago that he'd probably get 85 or 90. Shoot, he's a great shooter, he gets them up. But the best thing is how well the team is doing."

In a game in which BYU's senior guard Sam Burgess and Ben Murdock were set up against Cowboy superstars Brad Jones and Brandon Ewing, and BYU center Trent Plaisted was supposed to welcome "Tell Plaisted I'm coming," Joseph Taylor, Tavernari scored 18 points in 18 minutes to start this one.

Tavernari, allegedly guarded by a slower Tyson Johnson, knocked down five of his first six shots from the field. More impressively, he had three steals in the first half and twice set out racing down the court with this thievery, leading the fast break.

On one steal, he raced down the court and laboriously tried a behind-the-back, fast-break pass to Lee Cummard that had to be rewound. As the play developed, he got a kickout pass from Cummard and knocked down a rainbow.

He even blocked Johnson's shot.

Tavernari kept the Cougars in the lead for the first 20 minutes when Plaisted steadily scored inside but made just one of his first six free throws and Cummard started 1-for-6 from the field.

As the game wore on and the Cougars got closer to capturing their 47th home victory and second outright MWC basketball championship, Plaisted's welcome party for Taylor progressed like a flesh-eating microbe — nobody on Wyoming's roster could stop him.

Credit Tavernari for the jump start, however.

With Plaisted (23 points, 11 boards) steadily eating away at Wyoming's defense inside, Burgess and Murdock provided the perfect swan song final Marriott Center appearance with their own 3-pointers. After Burgess buried back-to-back treys in the second half, the Cougars led Wyoming 63-40 with just over 12 minutes to play.

A year removed as the MWC freshman of the year, Tavernari entered this week as the league's third-best 3-point shooter. Only Utah's Johnnie Bryant (75) and New Mexico's Chad Toppert (78) had made more bombs than the Cougar sophomore from Brazil.

At times this season, Tavernari's shooting touch has dismantled foes. He did it against Louisville (29), repeated it in a loss to No. 1 North Carolina (18). He had 25 in Provo against lowly CSU and 22 and 20 against Utah. During the summer, he led the Cougars in scoring on a summer tour of France.

In league play, he's been the Cougars' third option and fought through several droughts where his ability to convert from the field were futile.

The first half of this last home game wasn't one of them.

Toolson said he is surprised his record lasted nearly two decades.

"Yeah, I am, but I also think there's going to be some guys come along for the Cougars who are good shooters," Toolson said. "Jonathan puts them up, that's his primary weapon. He'll probably get more than a hundred."

Tavernari, engaged in a lengthy post-game celebration of his team's second straight MWC championship, was too involved with his teammates to offer a comment.

"I don't care, I don't care," he said on the floor after the nets came down.

And so Andy's mark fades into the books, its run through 18 seasons of March over and done.

Nice guy, this Toolson. But like Sir Thomas More, testaments and reigns of good men always end. At least Toolson, a color guy for BYU-TV broadcasts, still has his head.

Tavernari's got his number.

E-mail: dharmon@desnews.com