Why BYU coach Amber Whiting believes her team is on the verge of a breakthrough

The Cougars took top-5 Kansas State to the wire over the weekend.

(Trent Nelson | The Salt Lake Tribune) Coach Amber Whiting as BYU hosts Iowa State, NCAA basketball in Provo on Saturday, Jan. 6, 2024.

The No. 1 item on Amber Whiting’s wishlist for the rest of the season?

“Wins,” the BYU women’s basketball coach says flatly.

And after taking the No. 4 Kansas State Wildcats down to the wire, losing 67-65 nail-biter on the road, Whiting believes her young squad is finally ready to deliver some.

“I don’t like moral victories; they’re not my thing,” Whiting said this week.

But …

“I feel like we’re so close to getting over the hump,” she continued. “I know that would have been one of the biggest wins in BYU history. I felt like we were right there. I talked to them after the game; I was super proud of them and how they fought and how they didn’t go away.”

Now the Cougars, 12-9 overall but just 2-6 in Big 12 play, are looking to put it all together.

“I feel like if they take that same fight, that same buy-in, that some connectivity to any game, they can win,” Whiting said. “Kansas, that’s our first one.”

The Cougars travel to Lawrence for a Wednesday night matchup with the Jayhawks and leading scorer S’Mya Nichols.

“They’re very athletic. They like to get out and run. They’re very balanced,” Whiting said of Kansas.

But she feels like her team matches up well.

“You always look for your teams to build through the year, up, up, up, up and you want to play your best basketball come February, March,” Whiting said. “As long as they stay in that mindset and keep on the attack mode and stay connected, that’s where I really feel like they can build momentum from that [Kansas State] game.”

She added: “I feel like they’re figuring each other out and every game they’re getting stronger, more connected. They’re playing with a little bit of a chip on their shoulder and they believe they can do this. I’m excited to see how they finish out the season.”