LAS VEGAS (ABC4 Sports) – BYU has never won the West Coast Conference Tournament, and it’s been 19 years since the Cougars won any conference tournament title.
But after receiving its first ever bye into the semifinals, BYU is just two wins away from ending that streak.
The Cougars (24-7) face St. Mary’s (25-7) at The Orleans Arena Monday night in the WCC Tournament Semifinals, with the winner taking on the winner of the Gonzaga-USF game in the championship game Tuesday.
“This conference is competitive,” said BYU forward Yoeli Childs. “It’s been a long time since BYU won a conference tournament, so we want to do something special.”
When we last saw BYU, they were beating Pepperdine for their 9th straight win. But that was nine days ago, so the Cougars are well rested.
“Good things and bad things with the long rest period for us with the triple bye,” said senior guard Jake Toolson. “For one, it’s good because we’re a little banged up. Give some time for guys to get healthy and to get after our bodies and our conditioning. Then on the other hand, making sure we’re getting enough reps.”
BYU split the season series with the Gaels, losing in overtime in Moraga without Yoeli Childs, 87-84, and winning in the final seconds on a shot by TJ Haws last month in Provo, 81-79.
The Cougars are playing its best basketball in years right now, stirring up more excitement around the team since the days of Jimmer Fredette.
“When you watch a team where guys are working so hard to do whatever they can to help the team, willing to sacrifice their own agendas, I think you just feel it,” head coach Mark Pope said. “The winning streak and the ranking and all that stuff, it’s actually a bi-product of all those things that you’re really attracted to, and I think as a fan it really binds you to a team. This is a special group. I feel the same way as fans do.”
BYU and St. Mary’s will tip-off at 9:30 p.m. mountain time in Las Vegas.