BYU's basketball team was a tad embarrassed about the way it lost to Utah.
This Cougar team just doesn't get beat on the boards, yet by game's end Saturday the Utes had edged the Cougs in that department, 44-41.And on the scoreboard, 81-74.
On this night, every big rebound seemed to end up in Ute hands. Ev-erytime BYU made a run and really needed a defensive rebound, or a second shot on offense, it wasn't there.
The Utes Just Said No.
BYU forward Steve Schreiner said the difference was desire.
"It was just a case of them wanting it more," he said. "That's what rebounding is. You have to go get the ball."
Schreiner didn't offer any ideas on why the Utes were more motivated.
"This was the WAC championship on the line," he said. "Somehow, they just seemed to want it more."
Keep in mind, now, that BYU has outrebounded WAC opponents by 80, that Utah's starting frontline is a combined nine inches shorter than BYU's, and that BYU Coach Roger Reid puts a lot of emphasis on players doing hustle kinds of things - like rebounding.
Reid, for one, definitely had those facts on his mind.
"They wanted the rebounds more than we did," he said. "They outhustled us."
Reid did point out, however, that his team was hurt by Utah's quickness. When his big guys were out on the perimeter guarding a speedier Ute player and a shot went up, the Utes just got to the paint faster.
"We just had too many forwards trying to play quick guys," he said. "You take Ken Roberts and Steve Schreiner away from the basket, and it's going to be hard to get rebounds."
With BYU's big guys occupied elsewhere, Utah's Josh Grant and Walter Watts pulled down 12 and 11 rebounds, respectively - both figures well-above their season averages.
But while the loss ended the Cougars' longshot hopes for the WAC title, it by no means spoiled their season, Reid said.
"We still think we have a chance at the NCAA Tournament," the coach said.
To do that, said Schreiner, BYU must win its final two regular-season games.
"We need to beat Air Force, and we have to beat Utah at home to make the tournament," he said.
But the Cougars apparently are not satisfied that two wins to close the season will get them an at-large tournament bid. To cover their bases, they have another goal.
"I think we're going to look at it like we have to win the WAC Tournament," said Schreiner.
That, of course, would get them an automatic bid to the NCAAs. To do it, however, chances are good they will have to beat Utah.
Especially on the boards.