PROVO — After defeating San Diego and Loyola Marymount on the road a couple of weeks ago, BYU was poised to clinch the No. 2 seed in the West Coast Conference Tournament.
When the Cougars lost to San Francisco and Gonzaga the following week, it appeared they were headed for the No. 4 seed.
But in the end, USF lost its final three regular-season games while BYU defeated San Diego 87-73 last Saturday at the Marriott Center.
That's how the Cougars tied for second place in the final WCC standings — for the first time since 2014-15 — with Saint Mary's and wound up as the No. 3 seed for the tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas.
BYU will play in the quarterfinals Saturday at 10 p.m. MST on ESPN2 against either Portland, San Diego or Santa Clara.
“(It’s) an accumulation of what we’ve done the past few weeks. Obviously, we had two letdowns. But this team has been through so much adversity and through so many challenges that we know who we are,” said forward Yoeli Childs, who scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds against USD. “We know we’re a team that can bounce back. We know we’re a team that is really good when we’re playing with a purpose and doing the right things. Everyone’s confidence is sky-high right now. We’re going into this thing with the attitude that we’re going to go win it all. We’re really excited and I wish Saturday would come quicker.”
By securing the third seed, the Cougars avoid a potential semifinal matchup with the No. 1 seed in the tournament — and the No. 1 team in the nation — Gonzaga.
In the opening round Thursday, No. 8 Pepperdine faces No. 9 Pacific and No. 7 San Diego takes on No. 10 Portland.
The winner of Pepperdine-Pacific will meet No. 5 Loyola Marymount and the winner of San Diego-Portland will play No. 6 Santa Clara Friday.
No. 3 BYU will collide with the winner that emerges from the San Diego-Portland-Santa Clara side of the bracket in the quarterfinals Saturday. The Cougars posted a 5-0 record against those three teams during the regular season.
No. 4 San Francisco will match up with the winner of the Pepperdine-Pacific-Loyola Marymount side of the bracket.
If BYU wins Saturday it will set up a showdown with No. 2 Saint Mary’s in the semifinals next Monday. Top seed Gonzaga will also play in the semifinals next Monday.
The WCC Tournament championship game tips off next Tuesday.
BYU finished the regular season with a 19-12 record and 11-5 in the WCC.
The Cougars played without forward Gavin Baxter Saturday. Baxter has been ill and coach Dave Rose is hoping to get him healthy and ready to go this week.
Against San Diego, TJ Haws scored 26 points while Nick Emery had 15. Both Haws and Emery went 3 of 4 from 3-point range.7 comments on this story
Meanwhile, Zac Seljaas didn’t make any 3s but he was 5 of 6 from the field for 10 points to go along with three rebounds and four assists.
BYU, which hasn’t won a conference tournament championship since 2001, is eager to compete for a title.
“It’s about playing your hardest every single game, no matter who we play on Saturday. We’ve got to be locked in. We’ve got to be ready to go. It takes 40 minutes every game,” Haws said. “March is a crazy time and lots of crazy things happen. Anybody can beat anybody. You can’t focus on Tuesday or Monday. It has to be taking one game at a time, one possession at a time.”