The BYU Cougars are just days away from starting the West Coast Conference Tournament. While they have never won the conference's automatic bid by winning the title, they have had some success. They have advanced to the semifinals four times in five chances and made it to the finals twice. Here is a year-by-year breakdown of how the Cougars have fared in their five West Coast Conference Tournament appearances.
The Cougars finished their first regular season in the conference with a 12-4 record to earn the No. 3 seed in the tournament and a quarterfinal match-up with San Diego. The Toreros gave the Cougars a scare, but the veteran squad led by Brandon Davies, Noah Hartsock and Charles Abouo had enough in the tank for a 73-68 win. Hartsock paced the Cougars with 19 points, five rebounds and two blocks off the bench, while Davies added 16 points and five boards.
BYU didn't have nearly as much success the next night against the Gonzaga Bulldogs, who delivered the Cougars a 77-58 beatdown in the semifinals. Kevin Pangos was the catalyst for the Bulldogs with 30 points, while Elias Harris added 10 points and 15 rebounds. Davies led BYU with 17 points on 7-of-11 shooting from the floor, while Abouo had a double-double with 12 points and 10 rebounds.
The Cougars limped into the conference tournament with the No. 3 seed and another matchup with San Diego after they dropped four of the last six games to end the season with a 10-6 record. This time the Toreros got the better of the Cougars 72-69 behind the strong play of Johnny Dee, who finished with 25 points. Davies led the Cougars with 20 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, while Tyler Haws added 20 points, but it wasn't enough to come home with the win.
BYU ended the regular season with eight wins in its last nine games to finish with a 13-5 record and a second-place tie with San Francisco and a No. 2 seed. After dispatching Loyola Marymount 85-74 in the quarterfinals behind the solid play of Kyle Collinsworth and Tyler Haws, the Cougars faced off against the Dons for the right to go to the championship.
In one of BYU's most hotly contested games in WCC Tournament history, the Cougars pulled out the memorable 79-77 overtime victory over the Dons. Haws carried the Cougars in overtime with eight points to finish with a game-high 24, while Collinsworth added 18 points and 12 rebounds.
The run for the Cougars ended the next night in a game most BYU fans would like to forget. Not only did the Cougars suffer a 75-64 loss at the hands of Gonzaga, but they would also lose Collinsworth to a torn ACL, ending his season. Sam Dower made a big impression for the Bulldogs with 20 points and 13 rebounds, while Haws answered with 24 points for BYU.
The Cougars concluded the regular season with six straight wins, including a 73-70 road win over then-No. 3 ranked Gonzaga to earn the No. 2 seed in the tournament and a quarterfinal battle with the Santa Clara Broncos. The Bulldogs gave the Cougars a much tougher test then expected — thanks to 29 points from Jared Brownridge — but Haws made a jumper in the closing seconds to give BYU the 78-76 win.
Two nights later, BYU ousted the Portland Pilots 84-70 to advance to the championship, thanks to a strong performance from the guard line of Haws, Collinsworth and Chase Fischer. Fischer finished with 24 points on 6-of-12 shooting from beyond the arc while Haws added 18 points on 8-of-11 shooting. Collinsworth chipped in with a triple-double as he finished with 13 points, 14 rebounds and 11 assists.
Gonzaga was the only team left on the Cougars' path to a tournament title, but the Bulldogs wouldn't relinquish their crown as they dismantled BYU, 91-75. Six players scored in double figures for Gonzaga, including Kyle Wiltjer who totaled 18 points and 10 rebounds, while Pangos added 16 points and five assists. Collinsworth tried to keep the Cougars close as he finished with 28 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but it wasn't nearly enough to slow down the hot-shooting Bulldogs.
The Cougars closed out the regular season well as they won eight of their last 10 games to take home the No. 3 seed for the third time in five years. Their reward was another quarterfinal matchup with Brownridge and the Santa Clara Broncos. Even though Brownridge had a monster scoring night as he finished with 30 points, no other Broncos reached double figures as the Cougars won 72-60.
Another matchup with Gonzaga in the semifinals ended the Cougars' hopes of a championship run once again as BYU fell 88-84. Wiltjer had a monster night with 29 points on the strength of 5-of-7 shooting from 3-point range while Domantas Sabonis added 18 points and 14 rebounds. Nick Emery paced the Cougars with 27 points, five rebounds and four assists, while Collinsworth chipped in with 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in his last game against Gonzaga.