PROVO — The nonconference schedule for the BYU women’s basketball team is still a work in progress, although its West Coast Conference schedule was finalized recently and announced on Wednesday.

The 18-game slate begins with the Cougars playing five games in 13 days, including three on the road.

BYU starts the tough stretch hosting San Francisco and Santa Clara on Monday, Dec. 28, and Wednesday, Dec. 30. A three-game road swing has BYU in Southern California starting in San Diego, where it will play the Toreros on Jan. 4. BYU then plays at LMU on Thursday, Jan. 7, finishing at Pepperdine on Saturday, Jan. 9.

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Two home games are on tap for BYU the following week, with Saint Mary’s and Pacific visiting the Marriott Center on Jan. 14 and 16, respectively.

Back on the road, the Cougars head to the Pacific Northwest to battle Portland and Gonzaga on Thursday, Jan. 21, and Saturday, Jan. 23. Portland won the 2020 WCC Women’s Basketball Championship in Las Vegas, while Gonzaga swept the series over BYU.

“It is going to be an unbelievable and competitive league race this year. Portland returns everyone, Gonzaga is always tough and other teams have stacked their rosters with transfers.” — Jeff Judkins

Three home contests follow for the Cougars, beginning with a visit from the San Diego Toreros on Saturday, Jan. 30. The first week of February has Pepperdine and LMU coming to Provo on Thursday, Feb. 4, and Saturday, Feb. 6.

Games at Pacific and at Saint Mary’s are on the schedule for BYU the following week on Feb. 11 and Feb. 13. The Cougars play their final two home league games on Thursday, Feb. 18, and Saturday, Feb. 20, when Gonzaga and Portland come to the Marriott Center.

BYU then closes out league action on the road at Santa Clara and at San Francisco on Thursday, Feb. 25, and Saturday. Feb. 27.

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For the 13th year, the WCC Women’s Basketball Tournament will be held at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas from March 4-9.

“It is going to be an unbelievable and competitive league race this year,” BYU coach Jeff Judkins said. “Portland returns everyone, Gonzaga is always tough and other teams have stacked their rosters with transfers. This year’s conference will probably be the best that I’ve seen since we joined the league.”

In the 2020-21 conference season, the Cougars return the 2018-19 WCC Newcomer of the Year in Shaylee Gonzales and last year’s WCC Defensive Player of the Year Sara Hamson. Hamson was a WCC second-team honoree, while teammate Paisley Johnson Harding picked up WCC first-team accolades. Hamson led the nation in total blocked shots (137) and in blocked shots per game with a 4.72 average. She was also a 2020 Naismith Women’s Basketball Defensive Player of the Year Semifinalist.