LAS VEGAS — The No. 15 BYU women’s basketball team captured the outright regular season West Coast Conference championship.
Now the No. 1 seeded Cougars (26-2) can claim the WCC Tournament title Tuesday (2 p.m., MST, ESPNU) against No. 2 Gonzaga (25-6) at Orleans Arena.
A year ago, the Zags’ Jill Townsend hit a game-winning jumper at the buzzer, handing the Cougars a heartbreaking 43-42 loss.
“That was one of the hardest losses I’ve had in a long time as a coach,” recalled BYU coach Jeff Judkins. “The players remember it but they’ve told themselves that we’re not going to be in that position hopefully again.”
No. 2 Gonzaga (25-6) vs. No. 1 BYU (26-2)
Tuesday, 2 p.m. MST
Orleans Arena, Las Vegas
Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM
On Monday, BYU defeated No. 4 Portland 59-52 while Gonzaga downed No. 3 San Francisco 69-55.
The Zags are led by guard Kayleigh Truong (10.9 ppg), forward Melody Kempton (10.9 ppg) and guard Kaylynne Truong (10.5 ppg).
BYU boasts WCC Player of the Year Shaylee Gonzales, who scored a game-high 20 points against Portland.
Judkins said his team was a little rusty Monday after having a long layoff, explaining that the time off will pay off in the championship game.
“I’ve told my team, you’ve got to have an edge. You don’t want to lose. (Against Portland) some things went bad for us but we figured out a way (to win),” he said. “That’s what this team has. They’re very confident. We were ready. We were just a little rusty. … That’s why this team is fun to coach — they really care about winning. It’s important to them.”
BYU swept the regular season series against Gonzaga, beating the Zags in Spokane 62-50 on Feb. 5, then winning in Provo 64-39 on Feb. 19.
The Cougars are looking to strengthen their NCAA Tournament resume with a win Tuesday. BYU hopes to receive a top-16 overall seed and host the first two rounds of the NCAA Tournament.
Hosting the NCAA Tournament would be a milestone for the Cougars.
“We have a lot of issues (with hosting). Nobody practices on Sunday in our facility,” Judkins said. “But Utah Valley (University) is only five minutes away. They can go down there and practice. We won’t practice but they can, if we win our first game. I just think it would be exciting for BYU’s program.”