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Can BYU secure a Saturday win at Santa Clara?

SANTA CLARA, Calif. — On the past two Saturdays, BYU had a chance to win West Coast Conference games on its final possession.

Both times, the Cougars came up short.

Two weeks ago, Zac Seljaas’ potential game-winning 3-point attempt against Saint Mary’s missed the mark at the buzzer and BYU ended up falling in overtime.

A week ago, at Pacific, Seljaas’ shot at the buzzer came a little too late in a one-point setback.

Will the Cougars’ game Saturday (8 p.m., MST, BYUtv) at the Leavey Center against Santa Clara come down to the end again? And if it does, can they pull out a win?

BYU (14-4, 3-2) lost here to the Broncos last year, 76-68. It marked the Cougars' first loss to Santa Clara since joining the conference in 2011-12 and snapped the Broncos' 17-game losing streak to BYU. The Cougars hadn't lost to Santa Clara since 1972.

Guard TJ Haws said there’s a recipe for success when it comes to playing on the road.

“I really want us to start off strong in those games. In league play, if you give any team early confidence, any team can play with any team in this league,” he said. “I’m hoping that right from the get-go, we’re ready to go and we’re locked in on the defensive end and aggressive on the offensive end.”

Playing in the smaller gyms of the WCC is definitely different from playing in the giant Marriott Center. Haws added that it requires having the right attitude.

“It’s all about our mindset. It’s super-fun playing at the Marriott Center. Going on the road, the whole team has to have the right mentality and the right mindset,” Haws said. “Whether we’re playing in front of a few hundred people or thousands and thousands of people, our mindset has to be the exact same going into every game. It is different but hopefully our mindset stays the same.”

“Hopefully, we can be really good in two halves on Saturday,” coach Dave Rose said after his team’s 83-63 victory over Pepperdine Thursday night at the Marriott Center.

Despite last week’s disappointing loss at Pacific, forward Yoeli Childs is confident about what his team can accomplish this season.

“It’s early in the conference. This is a team I believe in, a team that gets better every game. It’s a team that takes things from losses and takes things from wins and learns and develops,” Childs said. “At the end of the season, we’re going to be a lot better than we are now. We’re a lot better now than we were at the beginning of the season. I love how much we’ve grown playing together. I love our chances.”

BYU (14-4, 3-2) at Santa Clara (6-11, 3-2)

Saturday, 8 p.m. MST Leavey Center


Radio: 1160 AM, 102.7 FM

Childs scored 21 points, collected 12 rebounds and had six assists and three steals against Pepperdine while Elijah Bryant scored a game-high 25 points and drilled five 3-pointers.

Santa Clara (6-11, 3-2) is coming off an 81-57 loss at home to Saint Mary’s Thursday night. The Broncos are led by guard KJ Feagin, who averages 17.8 points per game, forward Henry Caruso (12.6 ppg), Josip Vrankic (11.2 ppg) and guard Matt Hauser (10.8 ppg).

Against the Gaels, Feagin finished with 19 points and Henry Caruso scored 11.

For BYU, the first two weeks of the WCC schedule had the Cougars play two games at home, followed by two games on the road.

This week, the schedule calls for BYU to play a home game and a road game. Friday was a travel day.

“It’s not ideal. For so many years, we were on a Wednesday-Saturday schedule, traveling in between,” Rose said. “Thursday-Saturday is a little bit more of a challenge and hopefully we’ll find a way to step up and meet the challenge. These are the toughest ones, where you split being home and then you’re out (on the road) or you’re out and then you have come home. The times when you go out for two or the times when you’re home for two are the easier ones. Those are the ones that we’ve struggled with. We’ll see if we can flip it here.”