It hasn’t been the season either Ethan Wright or Jalen Gabbidon envisioned when they transferred to Colorado for one final season for college basketball.
Yet both of the graduate transfers out of the Ivy League are playing as if they aren’t yet ready to call it a career.
Wright turned in his best game of the season while Gabbidon again provided the efficient minutes off the bench he displayed last week at the Pac-12 Conference tournament, as the Buffs’ only two seniors helped CU prevail 65-64 against Seton Hall on Tuesday night in the first round of the NIT.
Wright, from Princeton, went 4-for-6 on 3-pointers and recorded a season-high 18 points. He also tied a season-high with five rebounds and went 4-for-4 at the free throw line.
Until the final week of the regular season, Wright had reached double-figure points just once this year, recording 15 in CU’s Nov. 18 win against then-No. 24 Texas A&M. But he has posted four of his top five scoring games of the season over the past four games, going 9-for-22 (.409) on 3-pointers in that span.
Among Wright’s four games with five rebounds this season, two have occurred in the past three games.
“We don’t want to stop. For me and Jalen, this could’ve been our last game, and I think we played like it,” Wright said. “I think all the guys are the same way. It could be their last game of the season, and that’s kind of the mindset we have. We’re just really lucky to be playing in March, so we’re going to take that seriously.”
Gabbidon was coming off a 5-for-5 game with a pair of 3-pointers in CU’s loss against UCLA in the Pac-12 quarterfinals. He was just 2-for-5 against Seton Hall, but he provided a huge lift off the bench with five points, three rebounds and a season-high-tying three assists — including a feed to Julian Hammond III for the winning basket.
Gabbidon was shooting just 25% on 3-pointers going into the regular season finale, but he has shot 4-for-9 from the arc in the past four games.
After returning from the conference tournament in Las Vegas, the roommates and former Ivy League rivals watched their old teams battle for in the Ivy League championship game on Sunday morning. Princeton won to earn the league’s automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
“We definitely watched together and we were talking a lot of smack,” said Wright, who also scored 18 points in the first round of the NIT last year for Princeton.
Hammond kept the momentum rolling in his starting role in place of KJ Simpson, recording 10 points and five assists with only one turnover in 37 minutes.
In four games since Hammond took over as the starting point guard due to Simpson contracting mono, the sophomore from Cherry Creek has shot 5-for-13 on 3-pointers while averaging 15.0 points. During those four games, Hammond has recorded 18 assists against just six turnovers.
As for Simpson, even though the Buffs aren’t scheduled to play again until either Saturday or Sunday, CU head coach Tad Boyle said after the game he doesn’t expect a comeback from the sophomore guard.
“I’m not optimistic on that,” Boyle said, “given the tests that came back (Tuesday).”
Seton Hall’s .367 shooting percentage was the fifth-lowest by a CU foe this season. … CU connected on 10 3-pointers just twice during the regular season but has reached that mark in two consecutive postseason games, going 10-for-23 in last week’s Pac-12 quarterfinal loss against UCLA before going 10-for-18 against Seton Hall. … CU improved to 14-8 all-time against current Big East Conference programs. … Seton Hall’s six turnovers marked a season-low for a CU opponent. Conversely, the Buffs had a season-low one steal. … With 15 points against the Pirates, CU forward Tristan da Silva now has 544 points on the season, which ties Jaquay Walls (1999-2000) and Cliff Meely (1969-70) for the 15th-highest single-season scoring total in program history. … Tuesday’s attendance of 2,363 was the lowest of CU’s six Boyle-era NIT home games. The previous low was 3,091 against Dayton on March 19, 2019.