After another narrow loss against a nationally ranked opponent Saturday — a 71-65 setback at No. 17 Saint Mary’s — BYU is stuck in a four-game losing streak.

Saturday marked the Cougars’ final West Coast Conference road contest of the season — and in history, as they transition to the Big 12 next year.

Right now, BYU is all alone in — ahem — seventh place in the WCC standings. 

There’s only one regular-season game remaining, and one final home game as members of the WCC. On Saturday, Senior Night, San Francisco (17-12, 6-8), which sits in a fifth-place tie with Pacific, invades the Marriott Center. 

The outcome of that game will help determine BYU’s seeding in the upcoming WCC tournament at Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, which tips off Thursday, March 2.

Once again, BYU was close, but unable to close out in setback at No. 17 Saint Mary’s
3 keys to BYU’s loss to Saint Mary’s

As of now, the Cougars (16-14, 6-9) would be the seventh seed and would play No. 10 seeded Pepperdine in the first round. 

BYU fell to the Waves 92-80 in Malibu on Feb. 9.

Last year, the Cougars were the No. 5 seed and lost in the quarterfinals to No. 4 San Francisco. Prior to that, BYU had never had a seed worse than No. 3 in the WCC tournament.

If the Cougars can nab the fifth or sixth seed, they can avoid playing in the dreaded first-round matchup and wait to play in the second round on Friday. 

But will the Cougars be up to this week’s challenge against the Dons, who downed the BYU 82-74 last month in San Francisco? 

USF was idle Saturday. The Dons host Portland Thursday before visiting the Marriott Center Saturday. 

Coach Mark Pope said his players will be ready. 

“We’ve got unbelievable guys. These are incredible young men. They’re really hungry to grow and get better. They want to compete,” he told BYU Radio Saturday night. “Losing is hard, for sure. It’s hard on these guys. But they’re extraordinary in terms of their character and in terms of coming and competing. I expect they’ll continue to do the same thing.”

After the loss to Saint Mary’s, Pope talked a lot about his players trying to figure out how to make the right play and being consistent. And, once again, he blamed himself for his team’s shortcomings. 

“Moments of brilliance and moments of inexplicability. It’s a coach’s responsibility to help guys be consistent in their decision-making. It’s wildly clear that I’ve failed completely in that space,” Pope said when evaluating his team’s play at the point guard position.

“We should be more consistent. It’s our decision-making, the way we see the game. That’s disconcerting on the one hand but it’s hopeful on the other hand because it means we can make the right play. We need to be disciplined to make the right play. A lot of times, the right play is the easiest play. A simpler play. For us, it’s a consistency issue.”

If the Cougars don’t play more consistently Saturday against San Francisco, then they’ll probably wind up playing in the first round of the WCC tournament, something they’ve never done before.

San Francisco (17-12, 6-8) at BYU (16-14, 6-9) 

Saturday, 8 p.m. MST

Marriott Center


Radio: BYU Radio/1160 AM