WSU men’s basketball feasts over Thanksgiving break

As many went home for the holiday, the Cougs rose to 3-2, broke program three-point record

WSU+guard+Jabe+Mullins+shoots+the+ball+during+an+NCAA+mens+basketball+game+against+Detroit+Mercy%2C+Nov.+25.

COLE QUINN

WSU guard Jabe Mullins shoots the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Detroit Mercy, Nov. 25.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

The WSU men’s basketball team (3-2) had their fourth and fifth games over Thanksgiving break and they won statement victories in both.

Both of these games are must-win at this point. To keep postseason hopes alive, the Cougs will likely need to not just beat these teams. They will need to devastate them. A tournament-level team should not look like an equal to Eastern or Detroit.”

That was what I said after the loss to Prarie View. The team must have felt the same way because that is precisely what they did.

For the first game of the break, the Cougs played the Eastern Washington Eagles in a neutral site game in Spokane. The final score was 82-56, a blowout in Wazzu’s favor.

The Cougs did almost everything right in this game. Justin Powell got back into point guard rhythm with seven assists, leading the offense to good efficiency from everywhere. The team shot a hard-to-beat 48.4% from the floor and 50% from three and the Eagles had no chance when they themselves shot 31% and 22%. 

Everyone was solid in this one. TJ Bamba, Mouhamed Gueye and the aforementioned Powell were all in double digits and every Coug that touched the floor was responsible for at least 2 points.

The Cougs had none of the scary moments that we have seen in the past. Over both games, the offense stayed clicking and the defense held strong.  They did a good job of not giving up the opportunities that opponents have often taken to get back in games.

The leading scorer in the EWU game has not come up yet because his story is bigger than just one game.

Jabe “Snoqualmie Steph” Mullins is sweltering. After starting the season shooting only 27% from outside everyone knew things would get better for him beyond the arc but nobody knew it would go like this. After two great games over break, Mullins is now shooting 50%  from the 3-point line on the season. In just those two games he put up a blistering 73% on 19 attempts. 

He led the Cougs in scoring in both games, having 24 against Eastern and 22 against Detroit Mercy.

He was not the only one to show out in that Detroit Mercy game. If the first game was a blowout, this game was whatever is better than that. 

The Cougs won 96-54 and it was not even as close as it looks because many of the Titans’ points came in late-game garbage time. There were significant stretches where WSU had double the points that Detroit did.

With Mullins piling them on and the rest of the team pitching in the Cougs hit a program-record 19 threes. Starting alongside Mullins’ hot performance were Bamba and Powell who shot four-for-five and four-for-six respectively. Off the bench was Mael Hamon-Crespin who went three-for-four in the best game of his young career.

That shooting put both of those starters in double digits again along with Gueye. The team as a whole shot fantastic splits of 60/65/75 from the field, floor and free throw line respectively. Powell had seven assists again and the team had 20 combined.

The same players were contributing in this game too, with Bamba, Powell and Gueye all in double digits again. The team as a whole shot fantastic splits of 60/65/75 from the field, floor and free throw line respectively. Powell had seven assists again and the team had 20 combined.

The improvements in passing are huge. While the bad losses earlier made some worry that the first game was an illusion, it is now clear that the team has simply gotten better offensively. With any luck, these improvements will stick and if they do the Cougs are a formidable threat on both ends.

Wazzu is looking hot as they roll into Pac-12 play.

The first in-conference game will be against Oregon. Tip-off for that game is at 7:30 p.m. Dec. 1 at Matthew Knight Arena in Eugene, Oregon. The game will air on the Pac-12 Network.

The Cougs return to Beasley to host Utah at 1 p.m. Sunday.