Cowboys Show Heart In Narrow Loss

Oklahoma State only had seven available scholarship players, five of them being freshmen. OSU didn't shoot particularly well, was outrebounded by double digits and had twice as many turnovers as assists. Forward Michael Cobbins was throwing up during the game from fatigue and still played every second.

All of those factors should point to a blowout loss. Add in the fact OSU was playing the No. 6 team in America; a team that had beaten the Cowboys by 41 points not quite three weeks ago. A lopsided defeat almost seemed like a certainty but it wasn't so.

In fact, OSU played arguably its most inspired basketball of the season in Saturday's 64-60 loss to Baylor that wasn't decided until 2.8 seconds remained in Gallagher-Iba Arena.

The Cowboys played hard enough, they just didn't play well enough when it came down to it.

"I'm very proud of the effort our team put into it. We couldn't have played any harder. Our guys left it on the court," coach Travis Ford said. "I wouldn't say we played particularly well, but we played hard. Once we got the one-point lead with 1:41 left, we never really made another play, came up with a big rebound, or a big stop. I'm very proud of their effort and disappointed we didn't pull it out."

The fact the Cowboys were in it with less than two minutes to play after they took a 57-56 lead on a Keiton Page 3 is kind of amazing in itself.

In fact, if not for a somewhat questionable no-call on a Page 3-point attempt with less than a minute left, this game could have had a very different outcome.

But that's not the entire point or what should be taken away from this game. This is not the same Cowboys team that suffered the program's worst loss since the Great Depression against Baylor in January.

Positive steps have been seen, highlighted by an upset win against then-No. 2 Missouri, but Saturday's performance proved that this team is moving in the right direction and, as Page said afterward, capable of playing with any team in the country.

That wasn't the case in until recently but it is the case now. That growth can put a silver lining on a loss that dropped the Cowboys below .500 again at 11-12 and 4-6 in Big 12 play.

The Cowboy defense was outstanding against Baylor, the ball movement was far better than it has been, Michael Cobbins played ferociously on the interior for 40 minutes, Brian Williams was outstanding on the offensive end and OSU even got high-quality minutes from Christien Sager.

One of the main reasons the Cowboys were able to hang with the Bears was the stellar play of Brian Williams. The redshirt freshman guard scored a career-high 23 points on 9-of-15 shooting. The rest of the team was 11-of-35 combined but the Cowboys defended, shot free throws exceptionally well again (14-15) and played their tails off for 40 minutes.

All this from a team that looked to be on the verge of giving up in mid-January.

The players that are on this team have more heart than anyone outside of that locker room realized.

This team might not always play well in the final month of the season but one thing is becoming more and more evident from game to game, the effort is going to be there.

"We have no excuses but I love our team," Ford said. "I love coaching this team ... Sometimes you have to go through the things we've been through to get where you want to go. I really believe that. It's been interesting (this season) but I look forward to coming to practice every day. I like these kids."

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