Cougs go cross-country for Christmas, get coal

WSU men’s basketball traveled to Texas and Hawaii, went 1-3



WSU guard Kymany Houinsou dunks the ball during an NCAA men’s basketball game against Northern Kentucky, Dec. 7.

HAYDEN STINCHFIELD, Evergreen reporter

Down 64-63 with less than 10 seconds on the clock, TJ Bamba dribbled the ball off his foot. It was not the first lapse in dribbling of the game for either team, but it was by far the most significant. Seemingly in slow motion, the ball rolled out to the 3-point line.

Experienced Coug fans have felt this feeling before. A close game, a chance to win, squandered by a simple mistake. It seemed they had “Coug’d it,” as they say. With two Colonials closing in, Bamba had almost no chance to take a shot himself.

George Washington, however, had made a crucial tactical error: doubting Jabe Mullins. One of the Colonials going for the ball had been Mullins’ man, leaving him open on the 3-point line. Bamba narrowly beat them to the ball and spun to get set for a contested three. When he saw Mullins was basically the only player on the entire strong side of the floor, he made the pass, and Mullins made the shot. How can you not be romantic about sports?

WSU men’s basketball (5-8, 0-2 Pac-12) saw four teams over the break.

The first of these was No. 12 Baylor in a neutral site game in the Dallas Mavericks American Airlines Center. The first ranked matchup for the Cougs this year was penciled in as a loss well before tipoff by most, and while it did end up going that way, it was a close game and the Cougs fought till the end.

The final score was 65-59 but both teams scored 34 in the second half. It was easily the most promising performance of the break for the Cougs— any loss where you can keep pace with an excellent team is a good loss. Mullins made his return, leading the Cougs with 16 points off the bench.

After that game, WSU flew out to University of Hawaii for the Diamond Head Classic, an eight-team tournament where they were set to play GWU in their first game.

That game was the only win of the break and it was a nail-biter. With a final score of 66-64, neither team achieved significant separation all game. GWU shot 3-for-18 from 3-point range, good for 16.7% to the Cougs’ 26.7%.  As previously mentioned, Mullins was the hero of the game, but Mouhamed Gueye and Bamba led WSU with 21 and 17 points respectively.

That win got the Cougs to the semifinals, where they lost to Hawaii in a game that was never super close. Ending 62-51, the Warriors held everyone but Bamba to single digits and won the second half by 10 points. This game and the final game were both generally unremarkable losses, just giving up too many points and not scoring enough to keep it closer than high single digits most of the time.

That final game was a consolation game against Utah State for third place. The Cougs lost that one 82-73, with a very good Utah State team managing to have six players in double-digits. They shot 64.7% from three while the Cougs shot 11.8%.

If both teams had shot to their season 3-point averages of 43.5% for the Aggies and 35.2% for the Cougs, WSU would have won. Obviously the logic there is extremely flawed, but the takeaway is the team cannot shoot that poorly and give up that good of a percentage and expect to win.

Moving forward, the Cougs will enter full Pac-12 Conference play. It will get harder from here. The team will need to get better.

The Cougs will begin the rest of their season against the UCLA Bruins at 8 p.m. Friday at Beasley Coliseum. Fans can watch on the Pac-12 Network.