‘Salty’ and ‘fighting,’ BYU looks toward WCC Tourney opener — with key rematch in view


Brigham Younger Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20), left, high-fives Jackson Parcell, 5, after Brigham Younger Cougars wins over Loyola Marymount Lions in an NCAA basketball sport at Marriott Middle in Provo on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: 6-7 minutes

PROVO — Even with out admitting it publicly, you might inform Spencer Johnson has spent the previous month excited about the loss at Pacific.

His teammates have, too, even when the BYU males’s basketball crew has lengthy moved previous the 76-73 loss to Pacific that was the low level of the season, the Cougars’ solely Quad 4 lack of the Mark Pope period and the largest blemish on an in any other case NCAA Event-caliber resume.

However with 54 seconds left in Stockton, California, Alex Barcello drained a 3-pointer that pulled the Cougars inside 2 factors — with all of the momentum.

However BYU may get no nearer. What adopted was a mini-tragedy of errors, that includes three steals and two turnovers — to not point out 4 free throws — within the remaining 41 seconds as BYU fell 76-73, the primary time in Pope’s three years that the Cougars have failed to reply from a loss with a win.

“We simply did not actually have any vitality,” mentioned Johnson, talking publicly for the primary time concerning the Jan. 29 loss. “Everyone hits a degree within the season within the trenches of January and February the place it will get long and hard; you are within the grind, and typically it is easy to lose vitality and lose focus.

“We simply did not have a ton of struggle. Clearly, it confirmed; we did not play very properly. We could not get stops. I believe it will likely be totally different this time round if we performed them.”

That loss changed into three, which then grew to become 4, when San Francisco and Gonzaga got here to the Marriott Middle to cap off the longest dropping skid of the Mark Pope period. It is that skid that has BYU opening the West Coast Convention Event sooner than it ever has earlier than, a 7 p.m. MST tipoff Friday because the No. 5 seed.

The Cougars’ opponent that evening? It might be Loyola Marymount, which BYU has performed — and crushed — twice within the remaining three weeks of the common season, because of the WCC’s unbalanced schedule. Or it might be Pacific, that very same crew that handed the Cougars the loss on a bizarre weekend evening in a health club shut down for a prolonged delay as a result of the Tigers could not shut off an inadvertent shot clock.

Johnson will take both matchup Friday — he is aware of that a very powerful factor is to win that gameand advance to face San Francisco, at the moment ranked No. 28 within the NET and a Quad 1 neutral-site sport with potential NCAA Event implications Saturday evening on the Orleans Enviornment.

Pepperdine Waves guard Houston Mallette (0) drives against Brigham Young Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20) during the game at the Marriott Center in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022.
Pepperdine Waves guard Houston Mallette (0) drives towards Brigham Younger Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20) through the sport on the Marriott Middle in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 26, 2022. (Photograph: Spenser Heaps, Deseret Information)

However deep down, even with out absolutely admitting, it is easy to inform this crew desires one other crack at Pacific.

“It would not matter to me,” Johnson mentioned, earlier than slyly including, “however it could be good to play Pacific once more; that may be enjoyable. A redemption sport.”

Past that stretch, he additionally feels just like the Cougars have corrected a lot of their points from the skid. Johnson has been a key purpose why, too, coming off the bench in all 29 video games he is performed to common 5.8 factors, 3.0 rebounds and 1.0 assists per sport in lower than 20 minutes.

The Salt Lake Group School switch who prepped at close by American Fork has scored in double figures eight instances this season, together with a career-high 15 factors on Dec. 1 towards Utah Valley. However he is been greater than a scorer, taking pictures 45% from the sector and sometimes being one of many first gamers off the bench as Pope turns to his 6-foot-5 body as a part of his prolonged defensive lineup.

An enormous a part of Johnson’s sport, by his personal admission, includes “ensuring we’re locked in defensively” and main the Cougars’ ball-screen protection and defensive rotations.

There’s some saltiness to his sport; and proper now, Pope admits there’s a number of saltiness amongst his crew that is aware of it must win not less than two video games in Las Vegas to have any probability of an NCAA Event bid.

“We had some guys that had been salty; that made me actually glad,” Pope mentioned after Tuesday’s follow within the Marriott Middle. “That is how it’s important to be as we translate this into tomorrow and Thursday and an enormous sport on Friday.

“However that is what we wish. I believe the blokes have some juice proper now. It makes me excited.”

Get to that Monday semifinal, the place BYU would face top-ranked Gonzaga for a 3rd time, and something can occur. The Cougars (21-9, 9-6 WCC) could be large underdogs in Sin Metropolis, however they had been a yr in the past when dealing with the Bulldogs within the match title sport on the Orleans Enviornment.

BYU had then-unbeaten Gonzaga on the ropes that evening, utilizing an 11-0 run within the first half to construct up a 12-point halftime lead. However Jalen Suggs scored 23 factors, together with two late 3-pointers, to rally the Zags to the win towards a fellow NCAA Event crew, 88-78.

“Gonzaga was actually good final yr, too, huh?” Johnson recalled pensively. “I hope we get to play them once more this yr; I actually do.

“Our crew is totally different this yr than it was final yr, and now we have a number of guys which are able to tackle that problem, to compete and struggle with them. The 2 instances we performed them this yr have not been nice video games; they’ve blown us out. However I believe if we get them once more, we will be prepared. The expertise from final yr teaches us that we are able to have a 10-12 lead at halftime, and us returning guys hope we get to play them once more. It will be a 40-minute sport, and we will get after them.”

Harm notes

Seneca Knight didn’t follow in full Tuesday afternoon as he continues to recuperate from a wrist damage suffered two weeks in the past at Saint Mary’s. However the junior switch from San Jose State put up photographs with the crew in each practices this week as he works again into type, Pope mentioned.

“He is doing good,” Pope mentioned. “It is simply form of a day-by-day factor that we’ll see.”

With out Knight, the Cougars have trimmed the common rotation to simply eight gamers, together with Caleb Lohner and Fousseyni Traore — who proceed to recuperate from nagging accidents suffered through the yr.

It is one purpose why BYU did not schedule a make-up sport towards a Quad 1 nonconference opponent this week that might have been added when the league opener towards Portland was canceled attributable to COVID-19. The Cougars had a sport tentatively aligned for Monday, however did not really feel taking part in on a fast turnaround from Saturday evening — and never practising Sunday — with a flight to the opposite crew’s campus made sense for his or her present place.

“That is the place you might be on this a part of the season,” Pope mentioned. “That is why it is a lot enjoyable.

“While you get to that second, you are battered and crushed, with photographs at your confidence, strife in your locker room; that is while you stroll into the largest second — as a result of it’s important to battle by all these things. It is an unimaginable expertise for our guys to develop.

“The postseason, there’s nothing prefer it.”

Postseason awards

The West Coast Convention will launch its annual postseason awards Wednesday morning, a convention spokesman mentioned. The honors are voted on yearly by the league’s 10 coaches.

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Here’s BYU’s path at the WCC Tournament in Las Vegas


Brigham Younger Cougars guard Spencer Johnson (20) reaches out to attempt to foul Gonzaga Bulldogs guard Joel Ayayi (11) as BYU and Gonzaga play within the finals of the West Coast Convention match on the Orleans Area in Las Vegas on Tuesday, March 9, 2021. Gonzaga received 88-78. (Scott G Winterton, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: 4-5 minutes

PROVO — Convention play is within the books, at the least within the West Coast Convention. Subsequent cease: Las Vegas.

So the place did BYU land?

The Cougars drew a No. 5 seed and can tip off the match Friday on the Orleans Area in Las Vegas towards the winner of Loyola Marymount and Pacific. It is the lowest seed BYU has drawn in its decade within the convention after the Cougars completed with a 21-9 document that features a 9-6 mark in league play.

Gonzaga earned the No. 1 seed after ending with a 13-1 document, its solely loss coming Saturday at Saint Mary’s within the last recreation of the common season and one in every of seven groups within the high 9 nationally to lose over the weekend. The Gaels will take the No. 2 seed, with each advancing on to Monday’s match semifinals.

“We get to go play Friday, and that is not an area we have occupied, possibly ever,” BYU coach Mark Pope stated after Saturday’s regular-season house finale towards Pepperdine. “However proper now for us, we have simply needed to discover a approach to win a recreation. That is been our place for the final month.

“I do like our pattern, I like our momentum, and I believed our defensive effort — particularly within the backcourt — has been terrific.

The Cougars have been “actively, aggressively” searching for a make-up nonconference recreation — one that will’ve been a Quad 1 recreation, seemingly on the street — previous to the tip of the common season. However Sunday’s draw, giving BYU a possible Quad 1 quarterfinal towards San Francisco on Saturday, might need cooled these talks. BYU would seemingly have to schedule the sport by Sunday evening to be able to make it occur, Pope instructed reporters final week.

For the second yr in a row, the WCC partnered with Ken Pomeroy to develop a mannequin of adjusted successful share based mostly on the uneven variety of video games performed throughout the convention. That mannequin left Santa Clara with the No. 3 seed after ending 10-5, a half recreation forward of San Francisco with an adjusted successful share of .673 to USF’s .655.

BYU completed fifth at .595, adopted by Portland at .429. San Diego, LMU, Pacific and Pepperdine spherical out the sphere.

BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales (2) drives between San Francisco guard Abby Rathbun (55) and San Francisco guard Amalie Langer (5) on her way into the paint as BYU and San Francisco play in semifinal West Coast Conference tournament basketball action at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, March 8, 2021.
BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales (2) drives between San Francisco guard Abby Rathbun (55) and San Francisco guard Amalie Langer (5) on her means into the paint as BYU and San Francisco play in semifinal West Coast Convention match basketball motion on the Orleans Area in Las Vegas, March 8, 2021. (Photograph: Scott G Winterton, Deseret Information)

On the ladies’s facet, BYU stormed to the WCC regular-season title with a 15-1 document in league play and simply out-distancing second-place Gonzaga in adjusted successful share, .921 to .870. The Cougars will advance on to Monday’s semifinals, the place they may face the winner of fourth-seeded Portland’s quarterfinal towards Saint Mary’s, Pepperdine or LMU.

It is the primary regular-season title for the reason that 2015-16 season for head coach Jeff Judkins and BYU, who’ve received simply two regular-season crowns since becoming a member of the convention in 2011.

“That is huge for our program to have the ability to win this convention,” Judkins stated after wrapping up the regular-season title Saturday. “Gonzaga’s received it so a few years, and it is good for us to have the ability to go win it.

“We actually need to win that match, go into the NCAA Match with a excessive, and begin taking part in our greatest basketball.”

All video games by way of the lads’s quarterfinals and ladies’s finals might be on the WCC Community and BYUtv. Tuesday’s girls’s last will air on ESPNU, with the lads’s last scheduled for 7 p.m. MST on ESPN.

This is a whole have a look at each tournaments:

Thursday, March 3

  • Ladies’s Sport 1: No.8 Pepperdine vs. No. 9 LMU, 1 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Ladies’s Sport 2: No. 7 Santa Clara vs. No. 10 Pacific, 3 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Males’s Sport 1: No. 8 LMU vs. No. 9 Pacific, 7 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Males’s Sport 2: No. 7 San Diego vs. No. 10 Pepperdine, 9 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)

Friday, March 4

  • Ladies’s Sport 3: No. 5 Saint Mary’s vs. Sport 1 winner, 1 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Ladies’s Sport 4: No. 6 San Diego vs. Sport 2 winner, 3 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Males’s Sport 3: No. 5 BYU vs. Sport 1 winner, 7 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Males’s Sport 4: No. 6 Portland vs. Sport 2 winner, 9 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)

Saturday, March 5

  • Ladies’s Sport 5: No. 4 Portland vs. Sport 3 winner, 2:30 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Ladies’s Sport 6: No. 3 San Francisco vs. Sport 4 winner, 4:30 p.m. MST (BYUtv/WCC Community)
  • Males’s Sport 5: No. 4 San Francisco vs. Sport 3 winner, 8:30 p.m. MST (ESPN2)
  • Males’s Sport 6: No. 3 Santa Clara vs. Sport 4 winner (ESPN2)

Monday, March 7

  • Ladies’s Sport 7: No. 1 BYU vs. Sport 5 winner, 1 p.m. MST (BYUtv)
  • Ladies’s Sport 8: No. 2 Gonzaga vs. Sport 6 winner, 3 p.m. MST (BYUtv)
  • Males’s Sport 7: No. 1 Gonzaga vs. Sport 5 winner, 7 p.m. MST (ESPN)
  • Males’s Sport 8: No. 2 Saint Mary’s vs. Sport 6 winner, 9:30 p.m. MST (ESPN2)

Tuesday, March 8

  • Ladies’s championship, 2 p.m. MST (ESPNU)
  • Males’s championship, 7 p.m MST (ESPN)

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BYU women’s basketball wins WCC title; men finish season with second straight blowout win


The 2 Cougars basketball groups ended their common seasons Saturday.

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) BYU guard Shaylee Gonzales (2) leads a quick break for the Cougars, in ladies’s basketball motion between the BYU Cougars and the Pepperdine Waves, on the Marriott Middle in Provo, on Thursday, Feb. 10, 2022. Judkins scored his 450th win tonight.

Provo • The BYU ladies’s basketball group waited for this second all season. The second when the Cougars may formally say the West Coast Convention title belonged to them and solely them.

The Cougars secured the outright championship Saturday with a blowout 82-52 street win over Pacific, bringing their WCC report to 15-1 and 25-2 total. It’s the group’s first convention title because the 2015-16 season.

“That is massive for our program to have the ability to win this convention,” coach Jeff Judkins stated by way of videoconference after the sport. “Gonzaga has gained it so a few years. It’s good for us to have the ability to actually do it.”

The ladies not solely secured the common season title, but additionally earned the WCC Match’s No. 1 total seed. Their run begins Monday, March 7.

“We’re favored to win the match,” Judkins stated. “We’re going to go on the market with a variety of confidence and know that we are able to try this.”

(Rick Egan | The Salt Lake Tribune) Brigham Younger Cougars ahead Fousseyni Traore (45) scores as Loyola Marymount Lions guard Lamaj Lewis (13) defends, in WCC basketball motion between the Brigham Younger Cougars and the Loyola Marymount Lions on the Marriott Middle in Provo, on Thursday, Feb. 24, 2022.

The boys, in the meantime, beat Pepperdine 75-59 and unofficially gave them the No. 5 seed within the match. Meaning they’ll play Friday, March 4 to begin their WCC Match run.

Freshman Fousseyni Traore had a profession sport, scoring 25 factors, grabbing 19 rebounds and blocking two photographs.

In a tribute, coach Mark Pope subbed in seniors Gavin Baxter and Richard Harward for one possession. The 2 suffered season-ending accidents and had not performed in any respect. Baxter tore his ACL earlier within the season, and Harward took a “step again” from basketball because of a coronary heart difficulty.

This story might be up to date.

BYU women cruise past Pacific for 1st WCC regular-season title since 2016


The BYU Cougars have a good time after successful a West Coast Convention sport towards the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the Marriott Middle in Provo on Saturday, Feb. 19, 2022. (Mengshin Lin, Deseret Information)

Estimated learn time: Lower than a minute

PROVO — After a thunderous, emotional win over Gonzaga within the closing dwelling sport of the common season, BYU girls’s basketball had yet one more formality left: win the West Coast Convention outright championship.

The formality got here to a head rapidly in Stockton, California.

Shaylee Gonzales poured in 18 factors, eight rebounds, three assists and 4 steals, and Paisley Harding added 14 factors and 4 rebounds as No. 19 BYU rolled to a 82-52 win at Pacific on the Spanos Middle to clinch the Cougars’ first West Coast Convention regular-season title in seven years.

Lauren Gustin added 11 factors and 13 rebounds for BYU (25-2, 15-1 WCC), and Tegan Graham had 12 factors and 5 assists for the Cougars.

It is the primary outright regular-season convention title for BYU (25-2, 15-1 WCC) for the reason that 2015-16 season, and the second total since becoming a member of the West Coast Convention in 2011. BYU additionally received convention regular-season titles below head coach Jeff Judkins in 2005-06, 2006-07, and 2010-11 as members of the Mountain West.

This story can be up to date.

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