BYU hopes for its second WCC tournament win


The BYU women’s basketball team travels to Las Vegas this week to take on its conference foes in the West Coast Conference tournament.

The Cougars (20–9, 11–5) earned a four seed in the tournament and will play on Friday.

“Last year we came in with a lot of positive attitude, (and) we knew we could win this tournament,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “I know that we can beat anybody in this league. We just have to come out and play like we did last year.”

Ashley Garfield jumps and shoots against Santa Clara at home earlier this season. (Photo by Elliott Miller)
Ashley Garfield jumps and shoots against Santa Clara at home earlier this season. (Photo by Elliott Miller)

BYU won the WCC tournament last year, defeating Gonzaga 78–66 in the championship game. Haley Steed scored 17 points in that game while also dishing out eight assists. Kim Beeston had 10 assists in that game, which is her career high. That win gave the Cougars an automatic bid to the NCAA tournament, their first appearance since 2007.

“Experience helps,” junior Jennifer Hamson said. “We have a lot of girls who have been to the tournament before, and so just knowing how it goes and how it runs is helpful. … Take that feeling (of winning) and use it as motivation. We’ve done it before.”

BYU has three potential match-ups for its game on Friday. Out of those three teams, it seems like LMU is BYU’s choice.

“It’s a fresh wound,” senior Keilani Unga said. “I’d just like to bandage that up a bit. LMU played a great game at their place. It was their senior night. Just to meet up with them in the tournament in a neutral environment would be great.”

Gonzaga, a team that BYU has not defeated this season, is the No. 1 seed, followed by San Diego with the No. 2 seed and St. Mary’s with the third seed. On Friday, BYU will play either LMU or San Francisco/Pepperdine (depending on who wins that first-round match-up). If BYU wins that game, it will play Gonzaga in the semifinals.

“The tournament is a challenge,” Judkins said. “Really what it comes down to is whatever team is the hottest that week wins. … We just have to play our game and execute the things we do best.”

For the two seniors, Steed and Unga, this is their last chance to achieve something great.

“You can always think (that) next year we can do better. … All season long we’ve worked hard,” Unga said. “Preseason we were so devoted. That was our goal, to be conference champions. Now our only hope is to win the tournament and make it into the NCAA tournament. If we did all of that, it would just be the cherry on top of Haley’s and my senior year.”

BYU’s first game in the WCC tournament is on Friday at noon PST. All of the women’s games will air on BYUtv, except for the championship game, which will air on ESPNU.

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