San Francisco’s last shot bounced off the rim, and the BYU Cougars celebrated as if they had won something important Monday night.

Unofficially, that’s true.

For the moment, all their 79-77 overtime victory earned them was the right to meet Gonzaga for the West Coast Conference tournament title — only 19 hours later at the Orleans Arena.

But when Selection Sunday arrives, this will be the achievement that secured BYU’s NCAA Tournament bid.

Of course, the Cougars (23-10) can eliminate all of the mystery and earn an automatic invitation with a win Tuesday night. That’s asking a lot, considering the level of effort that went into beating USF.

The Cougars’ performance hardly was overwhelming, enabling USF coach Rex Walters to maintain his belief that the Dons were the best team in the tournament.

It’s fine for Walters to praise and defend his own players, but he went too far in this postgame statement: "There may be a lot of Mormons mad at me, but I don’t give a rat’s you-know-what what the state of Utah thinks of me."

Somehow, I think that comment may resurface next winter when Walters comes to Provo.