by Mike Miller
November was a month to remember for BYU Athletics. National championships, a Final Four appearance, hosting national tournament games, a Holy War win, and high national rankings are just some of the impressive accomplishments across the board for the Cougars. The month was dubbed “No-Loss November” as the university’s team sports (football, men’s and women’s basketball, women’s volleyball and soccer) combined to go 29-0. Team accomplishments combined with several quality individual performances has Cougar nation buzzing.
Mark Pope’s team took care of business in games they were expected to win, handling both Central Methodist and Texas Southern at home. They then notched a Holy War win with a 75-64 victory in Salt Lake. BYU’s undefeated record was rewarded with a #12 ranking in the latest AP Top 25 poll.
Next Up: The in-state action continues as BYU travels to cross town foe UVU on Wednesday at 7:00 p.m. MST. On Saturday, the Cougars continue their road trip with a visit to Missouri State at 2:00 p.m. MST. Wednesday’s game is on BYUtv, while Saturday’s is on CBS Sports Network.
The ladies are also undefeated, cruising ahead to 7-0 on the season. They also pushed their way into the Top 25 at #21. BYU started the last two weeks with a pair of dominating home victories, beating Boise State 84-40 and Utah State 101-74. They followed up those wins with a pair of upsets over ranked teams in the St. Pete Showcase in Florida. First, they took down #17 Florida State by a score of 61-54, followed by a 58-57 win over #22 West Virginia. Shaylee Gonzales made the game winning free throw in the West Virginia game with 3.1 seconds remaining.
Next Up: The ladies take their turn for the Holy War this week, as they visit Salt Lake City on Saturday at 5:00 p.m. MST. The game will be broadcast on the PAC-12 Network.
Men’s Cross Country
The Cougars went to Florida for the national championships and took home a respectable seventh-place team finish. The team’s biggest accomplishment, however, was Conner Mantz’s individual national championship. Mantz, who was the defending national champion, successfully kept his crown with a time of 28:33.1, a personal best in the 10K.
Women’s Cross Country
Not to be outdone, Whittni Orton also grabbed an individual national championship for BYU, winning the women’s 6K race in 19:25.4. Oft-injured last year and into this year, Orton’s hard work and recovery paid off at the pinnacle of her sport. She was joined by her teammates in finishing second nationally to NC State.
BYU’s ability to travel well was on display the last two weeks, as Cougar fans showed up in Georgia and Southern California to witness the season end with two more wins. BYU handled Georgia Southern 34-17 in a routine game, and then they capped the season with their own version of the PAC-12 South championship with a 35-31 win at USC. As injuries have worn down the team, they have shown their ability to win with depth. Now, BYU awaits their bowl fate and hope they can sneak into a game better than the Independence Bowl.
The Cougars have raced through the NCAA tournament on the road to the first Final Four in program history. Fourth-seeded BYU went to Virginia for the second and third rounds, taking down Alabama 4-1 before upsetting top seed Virginia 1-0. The Cougars then hosted their Elite Eight match in Provo, calmly taking care of South Carolina 4-1.
Next Up: BYU faces fellow WCC member Santa Clara on Friday at 7:30 PM MDT on ESPNU. The Final Four and National Championship are always hosted at pre-determined neutral sites, but unfortunately for the Cougars, this year’s neutral site is in Santa Clara, California. Hopefully Cougar nation continues to show out at road matches to try and balance out the home faithful for SCU.
Having already clinched a WCC title, the team did not throw in the towel and ended their season with three road wins over Pacific, Saint Mary’s, and San Diego. The Cougars were rewarded for their 28-1 season with the 11th overall seed in the NCAA tournament.
Next Up: BYU hosts Boise State in round one of the tournament on Friday at 7:00 p.m. MST on ESPN. They will also host round two, facing the winner of Utah and UVU. The Utes and Wolverines will play at 4:00 p.m. MST on Friday.
Featured image courtesy Ashley Landis, AP Photo