Spenser Heaps,
Brigham Young Cougars players celebrate a point in the final moments of a West Coast Conference women's basketball quarterfinals game against the San Diego Toreros at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Friday, March 03, 2017.

PROVO — For senior MaKenzi Pulsipher, the BYU women's basketball team's loss to Saint Mary's in the semifinals of the West Coast Conference tournament stung, and for good reason. Since she started playing for the Cougars in 2013, Pulsipher has ended every season playing in the NCAA Tournament, but due to being upended by the Gaels, the Cougars will now have to finish out this season in the WNIT.

"It's always going to sting because it's not what we wanted, but you can't dwell on it," Pulsipher said. "It never does any good to dwell — you just have to look forward and control the things you have and make the most of the opportunities. Obviously everyone wants to go to the Big Dance, but we get to keep playing, and a lot of teams don't at this time of the year. So it's a good opportunity."

BYU (20-11) will host Washington State (12-19) in the first round of the WNIT on Thursday at 7 p.m. MDT, with the game televised live on BYUtv. Should the Cougars win, they'll advance to take on the winner of Wyoming vs Seattle on Saturday.

For Pulsipher, she's not looking past Washington State, despite its underwhelming overall record.

"They play in a really good conference and a lot the film we've watched on them — it's against some of the top teams in the country," Pulsipher said. "So we know they'll be tough and someone we'll have to be at our best to get by."

BYU will approach Thursday's game hoping to achieve a level of consistency and effort that may have been lost during the disappointing loss to Saint Mary's. A big focus will also be on those returning this fall, as the team hopes to finish this season strong while building some blocks for next year.

"Coaches will be looking for players they can count on because the postseason rolls into next season," Pulsipher said. "So the theme is that and to not take any opportunity we have for granted. I know that I won't — knowing this is my last chance to play here. We need to play like it means something because it does mean quite a bit, even though it's not the NCAAs. I feel we're all focused going in and hopefully we can end this season on a high note."

Email: bgurney@desnews.com

Twitter: @BrandonCGurney