Washington State will meet Utah State in the third-place game of the Diamond Head Classic on Sunday in Honolulu.
The Cougars (5-7) and Aggies (10-2) each fell in the semifinals on Friday, with Washington State losing 62-51 to Hawaii and Utah State coming up short against SMU 77-74.
Washington State, which has dropped three of its past four games, was led by TJ Bamba, who had 19 points and four rebounds. Mouhamed Gueye added seven points and seven rebounds, while Kymany Houinsou chipped in six points and four rebounds.
After Bamba’s layup tied the game at 35 with 12:10 remaining, the Rainbow Warriors went on a decisive 8-0 run to take a 43-35 lead following Samuta Avea’s jumper with 9:20 to go.
The Cougars never recovered, as the Rainbows extended their advantage to 55-40 on Jovon McClanahan’s two free throws with 2:29 remaining.
“They were tough and they kept getting physical with us and we weren’t able to power through it,” Washington coach Kyle Smith said. “We just have to get tougher and grittier. This is going to test us and we can’t crack. We have to keep persevering.”
Bamba averages a team-high 16.7 points per game to go along with 4.5 rebounds per game, while Gueye averages 12.8 points and a team-high 7.9 rebounds. Jabe Mullins and Justin Powell average 12.8 and 10.5 points per game, respectively.
The Aggies have lost two of three games following a 9-0 start.
After Utah State trimmed a 10-point second-half deficit to 71-68 with 59 seconds remaining, SMU’s Zach Nutall hit a 3-pointer for a six-point lead with 33 seconds to go before Samuell Williamson’s jumper with 14 seconds left secured the win.
“I think that was kind of the story of the night,” Utah State coach Ryan Odom said. “Every time we would have a chance to take the lead, something like (a run) would happen.”
Sean Bairstow had 18 points and eight rebounds, while Max Shulga had 18 points and four assists. Steven Ashworth, who averages a team-high 17.8 points per game, finished with 15 points and four rebounds.
Taylor Funk, who is the Aggies’ second-leading scorer at 14.4 points per game, was held to seven points on 3-for-12 shooting from the field, including misses on all seven of his 3-point attempts.
–Field Level Media