No. 15 BYU Avoids Upset, Reaches WCC Tourney Final

Mar 7, 2022, 5:31 PM
BYU Women's Basketball - WCC Tournament...
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)
(Courtesy of BYU Photo)

LAS VEGAS – The No. 15 ranked BYU women’s basketball program found a way to beat an upset-minded Portland side Monday afternoon, and while they are happy to be playing in the WCC Championship Game on Tuesday, they know they are being discounted nationally, despite racking up a gaudy 26-2 record. 

“I think, all season, we’ve kind of had a little bit of a chip on our shoulder because of that,” sixth-year senior Tegan Graham said. “We’re 26-2. We’ve just gotten to the top-15 today. So, there’s a little bit of disrespect there, I think.  

“Our team’s really good at not focusing too much on rankings and things like that because there’s nothing we can do to control that. All we can do is win basketball games and go from there. I think our team’s pretty level-headed when it comes to rankings and all that sort of stuff.” 

Sophomore star Shaylee Gonzales backed up her teammate, saying “I feel like we prove (ourselves) day in and day out during practice and games. We come out and we fight, and we give it our all and we just know, like Tegan said, that rankings don’t matter to us, because we know that we’re just gonna go into the NCAA tournament and do some damage.” 

Head coach Jeff Judkins is also at a loss as to why his team has had a hard time rising in the rankings all season. 

“I don’t know what more this team could have done. We scheduled hard, we scheduled six power-five (games), not one or two, six. And we lost one in overtime. We look at it and say, ‘we’ve done what you’ve asked us to do.’ We’ve scheduled hard. We’ve done all these things. What more can we do as a mid-major?  

“We feel we deserve the opportunity,” Coach Judkins said of the chances the Cougars could be one of the top-16 seeds in the NCAA Tournament. “All we care about so we’re gonna play whatever team that matches up with us whether we’re an 11, 6, 2, or a 3-seed. We don’t care. We’ve got to worry about tomorrow’s game first. We do that and we’d love to talk more about it. But we hope we get an opportunity.” 

“We’re used to being the underdog,” Graham said. “Do we want to keep being the underdogs? I think it’s always a healthy mindset to have a little bit of a chip on your shoulder. We’re not the underdogs at the WCC tournament – we get everybody’s best game here. So, I think in that regard, it’s kind of healthy to have a little bit of the underdog mindset.” 

Regardless of whatever is to come, Shaylee Gonzales stated out loud for the media and team their goal this season. 

“We’re really excited for (the tournament) and to make it to the Final Four.”

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