LAS VEGAS (AP) — Taylor Proctor scored 27 points, Zhane Dikes added 21 and San Francisco earned its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in 19 years with a 70-68 victory over BYU in the West Coast Conference title game Tuesday.
Top-seeded BYU (26-6) jumped out to a big early lead in the rematch of last year’s title game, but the sixth-seeded Dons settled down after a shaky start to make it close heading into the fourth quarter.
Dikes hit two free throws with 17 seconds left to put San Francisco (21-11) up 69-68 and Proctor, who had 10 rebounds, hit 1 of 2 with 5.9 seconds left to give BYU one last shot.
The Cougars never got it off, with Dikes stripping Kalani Purcell on the final play.
WCC player of the year Lexi Eaton Rydalch, scored 11 points in the first quarter, but had to work much harder the rest of the game. She finished with 23 points on 7-of-21 shooting before fouling out with 49 seconds left.
Purcell had 17 points and 16 rebounds for BYU, which should still get into the NCAA Tournament.
BYU won the two regular-season meetings: easily in San Francisco and on an improbable shot in Salt Lake City, where Rydalch banked in a midcourt 3-pointer for the 65-62 victory.
The Cougars went on to win the WCC regular-season title and opened with lopsided wins over Pepperdine and Santa Clara to reach the championship game for the third straight season.
The Dons closed out the regular season with four wins in four games before opening the WCC tournament with wins over San Diego and Saint Mary’s.
Rydalch got the Cougars off to a quick start, scoring the game’s first eight points to pass Loyola Marymount’s Hank Gathers for most career points in WCC history.
BYU continued to pour it on from there, opening the game on a 15-2 run to build a 12-point lead after the first quarter.
The Dons were much more efficient offensively and did a better job of containing Rydalch in the second quarter, whittling the lead down to 42-37 by halftime.
San Francisco managed to keep the Cougars in reach through the third quarter, entering the fourth trailing 58-54 after BYU’s Cassie Broadhead hit a 3-pointer from the corner at the buzzer.
The Dons tied it early in the fourth quarter after Proctor hit a 3-pointer and scored inside, setting up the close finish.
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