Washington State’s top marksman was quiet most of the night, but when it mattered most, Jabe Mullins delivered.
The Junior Guard hit a 3-pointer start with 3 seconds left and propelled WSU to a 66-64 victory over George Washington University during the first round of the Diamond Head Classic at the Stan Sheriff Center in Honolulu on Thursday.
“He’s just a gun out there,” WSU coach Kyle Smith said of Mullins. “You can’t leave it open.”
George Washington guard EJ Clark hit 1 of 2 free throw attempts to put the Colonials ahead 64-63 with 15 seconds on the clock. WSU guard TJ Bamba nearly lost the ball on the ensuing possession, but picked it off the ground between two falling defenders and threw a pass to Mullins, who had a clean look from the wing. The Colonials missed a long 3-point try at the buzzer.
“They left Jabe open and he really buried a big litter,” Smith said.
Mullins finished with eight points and four assists after a 16-point performance against Baylor on his return to the court last week after a four-game absence through injury. The Saint Mary’s Transfer shoots 52.4% from downtown.
The Cougars (5-6) grabbed a two-game sled. They were competitive in both games – against undefeated UNLV and 11th-ranked Baylor – but ran out of gas late.
In another back-and-forth affair, WSU came through the rough patch to open their stay at the holiday tournament, and the Cougars’ clutch finish “should give us confidence in (close) games,” Smith said.
“We couldn’t break through,” he said. “They were just locked up (late against the Colonials).”
The Cougars stayed ahead throughout the first half and the first 11 minutes of the second half, but couldn’t break away from the Colonials (6-5).
In the last 7 minutes, the teams exchanged the lead eight times. WSU led by up to eight points in the middle of the first half, but only managed seven points at the last 10:40. The Cougars went up seven points twice in the second half, but George Washington capitalized on the WSU drought and stayed within striking distance.
“We couldn’t quite stop and couldn’t put together enough good possessions,” Smith said. “But we were able to fight back and win. Knowing that we control the game for the most part, lose the lead and can come back and win should give us (confidence).
WSU’s Mouhamed Gueye passed all players with 21 points and shot 9 of 14 from the field. He added 10 rebounds. Gueye was helped off at 5:46 p.m. of the second half after slipping and bending his ankle, but the 6-foot-11 sophomore returned to the sidelines after a brief examination and gave the Cougars got a boost and scored 10 points in the last 15 minutes.
“He was great from the start,” Smith said of Gueye, who had 11 points after seven minutes of play. “He was aggressive on the glass… persistent. He will only keep getting better. (After) he pinched his ankle, I was proud of how he continued to compete.
Bamba added seven rebounds and 17 points on 5-of-11 shooting from the field. WSU forward DJ Rodman had eight boards and four assists.
WSU scored 42% as a team and went 7 to 26 (26.9%) with 3 points. The Cougars overtook the Colonials 39-26, including a 13-4 advantage on offensive glass. WSU committed 14 turnovers and shot 11 of 18 from the foul line.
Guard Brendan Adams led the Colonials with 17 points. Guard James Bishop IV, who came into the game at No. 7 in the country with 22.2 points per game, was limited to 10 points in 5-of-14 shooting from the ground. George Washington shot 49% and hit 3 of 18 with 3 pointers.
Veteran forward Andrej Jakimovski returned to the lineup after missing the Cougars’ first 10 games with a foot injury. He had two points and two rebounds in 13 minutes.
Forward Mael Hamon-Crespin was off the team Thursday and is no longer on WSU’s roster.
“He has something personal that he cares about,” Smith said of Hamon-Crespinwho averaged three points and 0.6 rebounds in eight appearances. “I’ll talk to him and get a good picture of what’s going on, but he needs a break now.”
The Cougars advance to the semifinals, which begins Friday at 7:00 p.m. or 9:00 p.m. WSU meets the winner of Hawaii and Pepperdine, which was still ongoing at press time.
https://www.spokesman.com/stories/2022/dec/22/you-cant-leave-him-open-washington-state-guard-jab/ ‘You can’t leave him open’: Washington State security guard Jabe Mullins beats game by 3, Cougars trump George Washington in Hawaii