You can come in here and talk about defense, but when you are shooting 3 for 22 it does no good. —BYU coach Dave Rose, on the Cougars' 3-point shooting Saturday
PROVO — Heading into the final week of the regular season, BYU has at least one big problem.
The Cougars' 3-point shooting has abandoned them.
Over its past four road games, BYU is connecting on an abysmal 20 percent (17 of 85) of its shots from 3-point range.
That’s a bad sign for a team hoping to make a splash at the West Coast Conference Tournament in Las Vegas in March.
But before then the Cougars visit Portland Thursday and host No. 9 Gonzaga in their regular-season home finale Saturday.
In BYU’s 75-62 loss at San Diego last Saturday, the Cougars went 3 of 22 from 3-point territory. BYU suffered a double-digit deficit in the first half and never recovered.
"You can come in here and talk about defense, but when you are shooting 3 for 22 it does no good,” said coach Dave Rose. “I do believe this is a good shooting team and that will turn, but that’s a hard number to win with.”
Why is BYU struggling so much with its outside shooting?
“I don’t know. I wish I knew,” said guard TJ Haws, who was 0 of 3 for 3-pointers against USD. “I know we have great shooters. We’re going to keep having that shooter’s mentality and keep having confidence in each other and keep shooting open, good looks.”
“We’ve just got to keep shooting,” said guard Zac Seljaas, who tied his season high with 11 points and was 1 of 2 from 3-point range. “As they say, ‘Shooters shoot.’ We’ve just got to have that confidence and keep going.”
Rose said his team’s poor shooting affects his team’s defense.
“At the end of the day, we’re going to have to become a better executing defensive team when we have a hard time making shots,” he said. “That’s the key.”
While San Diego is one of the nation’s top teams when it comes to defending the 3-point line, Rose lamented his team’s ability to knock down shots.
“We had open shots (Saturday),” he said. “They were good looks. Maybe (the Toreros) make you shoot them quicker than you want. Right now we need to get more confidence to be able to make those. When you’re behind, you’re trying to make up points. We’re better shooters than that.”
Despite Saturday’s loss, the Cougars (21-8 overall, 10-6 in the WCC) are still in third place in the WCC standings. Pacific (9-7) had a chance to climb into a third-place tie with BYU, but the Tigers lost at home to Santa Clara Saturday night, and they remain in fourth place.
Gonzaga (15-1) sits atop the league standings, followed by Saint Mary’s (14-2).
After BYU and Pacific, San Diego, San Francisco and Santa Clara are tied for fifth place with identical 8-8 records.
For the Cougars, the final week of the regular season features a game at Portland (4-12) followed by a home game against WCC powerhouse Gonzaga.
“It’s a big week next week. We played Portland the first game of the league schedule. We’re a lot different, they’re a lot different,” Rose said. “It will be an interesting matchup up there. Then we’ve got a nationally ranked team coming in (to the Marriott Center) to finish it out. It won’t be a traditional Senior Night because we have no seniors.”
Haws is looking forward to playing two more regular season games and seeing his team improve — including hitting more 3-pointers — heading into March.
“It’s a good challenge for us. We get to have another shot at being on the road,” he said. “Right now, it’s all about getting better. Monday, we’ll get after it in practice. We just need to get better heading into the tournament.”