Three Observations From BYU’s WCC Tournament Loss To San Francisco

Mar 5, 2022, 11:11 PM
BYU Basketball - Caleb Lohner - San Francisco - WCC Tournament...
Brigham Young Cougars forward Caleb Lohner (33) falls as he and San Francisco Dons guard Gabe Stefanini (15) fight for the ball in the 2022 West Coast Conference men’s basketball quarterfinals at the Orleans Arena in Las Vegas on Saturday, March 5, 2022. (Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)
(Kristin Murphy, Deseret News)

LAS VEGAS – BYU basketball needed a win to boost its NCAA Tournament resume when they took on San Francisco in the quarterfinals of the WCC Tournament. A complete 40 minutes was going to be needed to take down a near Top-25 NET team; it just didn’t happen as the Dons rolled to a 75-63 victory.

The Dons capped off the win with a late dunk from Jamaree Bouyea that drew ire from the strong contingent of BYU fans at The Orleans. It was the exclamation point to a night of frustration for BYU as now their NCAA hopes are on shaky footing, and that might be the mildest assessment of their chances of getting into the Big Dance.

Here are three observations from BYU’s loss 12-point setback to San Francisco.

BYU’s struggles from three reared its ugly face again

This season hasn’t been one to remember for BYU from the three-point range. Coming into the game, BYU was 68th nationally, an uptick from where they were a month ago at the end of their four-game losing streak. But how much of that success was due to facing Quad 3 and Quad 4 opponents?

Well, in another test against a Quad 1 squad –BYU’s tenth of the year– they struggled from deep.

BYU finished 3-of-20 from three. The lone bright spot was Spencer Johnson, who hit a pair of second-half treys when BYU was down by nine. But outside of that, BYU didn’t have lady luck on its side.

San Francisco ended up shooting 7-of-20 from distance. Coming into the game, San Francisco was only favored by three, basically a toss-up proposition by the wise guys here in the desert. So that sizable gap from deep played a significant role when looking at the final numbers.

San Francisco’s defense overwhelmed BYU basketball

The defensive team that BYU was in the non-conference –on pace to being the best defense since 2003– was showing signs of life coming into Saturday night’s game. Especially after the dominant performance over LMU. But it was San Francisco’s top 20 defense that was the one that shined in the quarterfinals.

San Francisco’s defensive pressure and size overwhelmed BYU, causing the aforementioned three-point struggles. The length from USF’s Yauhen Massalski and Duke transfer Patrick Tape made sure that anything BYU did in the paint was going to be hard-earned. BYU freshman Fousseyni Traore was up for the challenge recording another double-double (16 points, 11 rebounds), but nothing came easy.

The Dons dared anyone not named Alex Barcello to beat them and it worked as BYU’s supporting cast didn’t deliver to the levels they showed on Friday night.

San Francisco entered the game No. 20 in the adjusted efficiency metrics on defense by KenPom. It showed as they looked like the team that belonged in the NCAA Tournament with how they locked up BYU.

Alex Barcello deserved better than this outcome

When Alex Barcello announced he was returning to BYU last Memorial Day weekend at a Fathers & Sons basketball camp, he likely didn’t envision what transpired on Saturday night. Instead, the super senior came back to contend for a WCC title and ultimately play in the NCAA Tournament.

There’s still a chance that BYU gets in the NCAAs. We can pour over the bracketologists’ projections all we want, but the only bracket that matters is the committee.

When you have a guard that’s one of the best shooters in program history, a guy that had zero connections to BYU before his arrival and has since embraced everything that embodies BYU athletics, you want to deliver a memorable postseason run. But, as BYU has seen since Jimmer Fredette left in 2011, it’s hard to find elite guards. Barcello has been elite for BYU, and for him to possibly end his career as a Cougar in the NIT just doesn’t sit right.

Mitch Harper is a BYU Insider for and host of the Cougar Tracks Podcast (SUBSCRIBE) and Cougar Sports Saturday (Saturday from 12–3 p.m.) on KSL Newsradio. Follow him on Twitter: @Mitch_Harper.

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