November to remember for BYU Athletics
Since BYU athletes aren’t permitted to celebrate no-shave November, they began a new tradition at BYU called No-loss November.
BYU athletics has been on a tear during the 2021 fall season and November is just a part of that dominance. In the month of November, no BYU athletic team that competed in a head-to-head competition lost.
After an 11-1 season a year ago that many national pundits discounted because COVID-19 left BYU with a schedule that many deemed mediocre at best, BYU silenced all the critics, putting together its second straight 10-win season.
Athlon Sports season preview said “the Cougars should savor their spectacular 2020 season because chances of replicating it aren’t good.” Athlon Sports predicted eight wins for BYU and ranked them as the 51st best team in college entering the 2021 campaign.
In a season where many national writers wrote off the Cougars, BYU broke the streak against the team up north, beat both Arizona and Arizona State and won back the Beehive Boot by taking down the Aggies on the road in Logan.
After dropping consecutive games to Boise State and Baylor, their only losses of the season, BYU won the battle of the Cougars by beating Washington State in Pullman, put up 66 points to spoil Bronco Mendenhall’s return to LaVell Edwards Stadium and were able to fight on to beat USC in the Coliseum to notch double digit wins for the second time since 2011.
The Cougars went undefeated in the month of November by beating Idaho State, Georgia Southern and USC, (with a minimum of three games played) for just the sixth time since 1999. Previous wins include 2016, 2014, 2009, 2007, 2006, 2001.
Men’s Basketball (6-0)
BYU men’s basketball super-senior Alex Barcello returned for the 2021-22 campaign when he opted to use his extra “COVID year” because he said, “business is not done.” He has led the Cougars to their first 6-0 start since 2016.
Head coach Mark Pope also brought in transfers Te’Jon Lucas, Seneca Knight as well as freshmen Fousseyni Traore and Atiki Ally Atiki, who have all been key pieces in BYU’s 6-0 start.
The Cougars played four 2021 NCAA Tournament teams in its first five games, knocking off Cleveland State by 10, San Diego State by six, Texas Southern by 17 and No. 12 Oregon by 32. Their sixth win came in their first true road game as they took down the Utes 75-64 at the Jon M. Huntsman Center on Nov. 27.
The last time BYU started a season undefeated going into the month of December was the 2010-11 season, when Jimmer Fredette and company started 10-0 before dropping their first of five games that season, which ended in the Sweet Sixteen.
Women’s Soccer (6-0, Final Four)
BYU women’s soccer’s last loss came to the Santa Clara Broncos on Oct. 30. Since that time, the Cougars have taken down the Portland Pilots and the No. 16 Pepperdine Waves to finish 17-4-1, clinching a share of the WCC Championship and a fourth straight NCAA tournament berth.
In the first round, the University of New Mexico was welcomed at South Field with a six-goal barrage by the Cougars which sent them packing. BYU then travelled to Charlottesville, Virginia, to take on the Alabama Crimson Tide in the round of 32.
The Cougars scored three first half goals followed by one more in the second half to knock out Alabama and earn a date with the No.1 seeded Virginia Cavaliers in the Sweet Sixteen.
BYU controlled the tempo for most of the game, but a few counters from the Virginia front line provided the Cavaliers with 15 shots, eight of which were on frame and saved by super-senior Cassidy Smith. The seniors for the Cougars came through when they needed it most, with Cameron Tucker scoring the game winner in the 47th minute, to send BYU to its fourth Elite Eight in program history.
In the Elite Eight, the Cougars faced off with the Gamecocks of South Carolina back at South Field. BYU took the lead in the third minute with a goal from Makaylie Moore and never looked back. Mikayla Colohan scored the second of two first half goals to take a 2-1 lead into the break. The Cougars shut out the Gamecocks in the second half while adding two more goals to win 4-1 and advance to the College Cup for the first time in the 27-year history of the program.
BYU will take on WCC foe Santa Clara in the Final Four on Friday, Dec. 3 in California for the right to play the winner of Florida State and Rutgers in the National Championship match.
Women’s Volleyball (7-0; NCAA Tournament)
The Cougars began the year ranked no. 15 in the AVCA coaches’ poll and stared down a daunting 29-game schedule. After winning its first seven games and rising to No. 12 in the country, the Cougars suffered their only blemish of the 2021 campaign with a 3-1 loss to No. 4 ranked Pitt on the road.
Following their only loss of the season, the Cougars went undefeated and swept 16 of their next 21 matches including victories over No. 10 Utah, No. 21 San Diego and No. 24 Pepperdine.
Their 18-0 conference record is the first time the Cougars have swept the conference slate since Elaine Michaelis led the 1993 women’s volleyball team to a 14-0 record in the Western Athletic Conference, won the conference title and reached the Final Four of the NCAA Tournament.
In the month of November alone, BYU posted seven victories, winning 21 sets and only dropping three along the way to a No. 4 national ranking.
Women’s volleyball’s winning streak began on Sep. 11, and the Cougars hope to extend it when they take on the Boise State Broncos in the first round of the NCAA Tournament at the Smith Fieldhouse on Friday, Dec. 3.
Women’s Basketball (7-0; 2 Ranked Wins)
BYU women’s basketball is off to one of their best starts in program history, starting the season 7-0 for the first time since 2013, when they started 9-0. In 2013, the Cougars reached the Sweet Sixteen of the NCAA Tournament before getting knocked out by the eventual national champion UConn Huskies.
The Cougars took down Lipscomb in the first game of the year, earned a 16-point victory over the Cavinder sisters and Fresno State before beating the Arizona State Sun Devils by 11 at the Marriott Center.
BYU then throttled Boise State, sending the Broncos back to Boise with a 44-point loss and beat in-state foe Utah State 101-74, before playing in the St. Pete Showcase in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Shaylee Gonzales and the Cougars first faced the 17th ranked Florida State Seminoles who they beat 61-54. They then earned their second ranked win of the week by taking down the No. 22 West Virginia Mountaineers by one in overtime, thanks to clutch free-throws by Gonzales in the closing seconds.
After two ranked wins in their first seven games, the Cougars find themselves ranked 21st in the country as they head to Salt Lake City to battle the Utes on Saturday.
Cross Country (Two Individual National Champions)
BYU’s men’s and women’s cross country are each ranked in the top 10 in the country, the men coming in at No. 7 and the women boasting a No. 2 ranking.
Connor Mantz and Whittni Orton each added to the No-loss November streak by winning the men’s and women’s NCAA Individual Cross Country Championship during the month of November.