The Gonzaga Bulldogs take on the BYU Cougars in the West Coast Conference Tournament final at 4 p.m. ET on Tuesday (ESPNU). Gonzaga owns the conference record for tournament championships with eight, winning most recently in 2018. BYU has three tournament titles in program history, beating Gonzaga in 2019.
How we got here
Gonzaga went 16-1 during the regular season, splitting the season series with BYU. Gonzaga won the regular season, placing them in the WCC tournament semifinals. The Bulldogs beat the Santa Clara Broncos in the semifinal 72-62. They are slated as a No. 5-seed in ESPN’s projected bracket.
BYU finished their regular season in second place, which pitted the Cougars against the San Francisco Dons in the WCC tournament semifinals. The Cougars lost their regular season finale against the Dons but turned in a 30-point victory in tournament. With no notable out-of-conference wins to speak of, BYU is listed as “First Team Out”, meaning a win is necessary for the Cougars to qualify for the NCAA tournament.
Gonzaga and BYU feature the Co-Players of the Year in Jenn Wirth and Shaylee Gonzales, respectively. Wirth averaged 13.1 points and 8.4 rebounds and shot a conference-leading 56 percent from the floor. Gonzales finished second in the conference in scoring with 18.1 points per contest.
Gonzaga’s All-WCC First Team guard Jill Townsend averaged 13.8 points and shot 40 percent from beyond the arc. As a team, Gonzaga was first in the conference in 3-point shooting at 36 percent. Look for Kayleigh Truong, who finished third in the conference with 4.2 assists per contest, to make plays for the Zags. Kaylynne Truong, Kayleigh’s twin sister, averaged 3.1 assists as a sophomore role player.
In addition to Gonzales, the Cougars also feature the conference’s leading rebounder, Lauren Gustin, who averaged 11.8 points and 12.4 rebounds. Gustin led the conference with 13 double-doubles and was another Cougar on the All-WCC First Team. BYU also features the active D-I career leader in blocked shots, Sam Hamson, who averaged 2.6 blocks per game this season and has 392 career blocks. Paisley Harding averaged 13.7 points and 3.4 assists, landing her on the All-WCC First Team.
Here’s what to expect from the matchup and how to watch:
No. 2 BYU Cougars (19-4, 13-3 WCC) vs. No. 1 Gonzaga Bulldogs (22-2, 16-1 WCC)
When: Tuesday, Mar. 10, at 4 p.m. ET
Where: Orleans Arena in Las Vegas, NV
What to watch: Two of the top defenses in the conference go head-to-head. 3-point shooting and free throw shooting were factors in both matchups in the regular season and are likely to loom large in this one. Expect a close game that comes down to a handful of possessions.