Cowboys Season Ends With Loss To Ducks

Oklahoma State prides itself on playing defense but when it mattered the most the Cowboys couldn’t get the stops they needed Friday night against Oregon. The Ducks shot 60.9 percent from the field in the second half and rallied to outscore the Cowboys 20-11 over the final 10 minutes on the way to a 79-73 victory in the NCAA Tournament in Omaha, Neb.

The Cowboys have now lost their first game in the NCAA tourney each of the past three seasons, and their last win in the tourney was in 2009.

Travis Ford’s squad finishes with an 18-14 record after losing seven of their final eight games. Oregon improves to 26-9.

The Cowboys led 62-59 with a little over 10 minutes to play following back-to-back baskets by Phil Forte, but the Ducks went on an 11-0 run over the next five minutes to go up 70-62. OSU would pull within one on Tavarius Shine’s 3-pointer with 4:03 left to play but the Ducks pulled away for the victory.

"We got outplayed by a high-scoring team," Ford said. "We didn't play bad, they just made more plays than we did. We made runs, they made runs ...

"I'm proud of the effort of our kids. We made the NCAA Tournament, (and) we're disappointed, we're sick we didn't win, but they played their hearts out. They played very very hard.

"The last four minutes of the (first) half were the difference," Ford added.

Oregon took control over the final four minutes of the first half. Anthony Hickey’s 3-pointer gave the Cowboys a 36-28 lead – their largest of the game – with just under five minutes left in the first half. But that’s when Oregon senior guard Joseph Young took over.

The Pac-12 Player of the Year entered the game averaging 20.2 points but had only scored two points in the first 15 minutes. But over the last four minutes of the first half he proved why he was selected as the Pac-12’s best player, single-handedly outscored the Cowboys 15-3 – draining a trio of 3-pointers – to erase the eight-point deficit and give the Ducks a 43-39 lead.

The Ducks stretched that lead to 50-42 early in the second half before the Cowboys went on an 18-6 run to regain control. Freshman Tavarius Shine sank a pair of treys, Phil Forte added another and Hickey followed with one of his five 3-pointers on the night.

The Cowboys led 62-59 but then the Ducks went on the game-winning 20-11 run.

"We have struggled with high-scoring team, for whatever reason we have struggled with them, and that was a concern in this game," Ford said. "Everybody said we matched up well with them, we did size-wise but style of play we struggle with that," Ford said.

"Our guys played hard. We didn't play bad. We just didn't get enough stops."

Young finished with a game-high 27 points to lead Oregon.

"He's a special player, very special," Ford said of Young. "You've got to hope he's off a little bit. He made some nice shots and got them going. Great players do that."

Nash led the Cowboys with 18 points and seven rebounds, but also committed seven of the team’s 12 turnovers. Hickey capped his Cowboys playing career with 17 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 2 steals.

Forte contributed 12 points and 3 assists, but his end-of-the-season shooting woes continued as he made just 1-of-7 treys. Shine finished with a career-best 12 points (going 3-of-6 from behind the 3-point line) while adding 4 rebounds and 2 assists.

The loss ends the OSU playing careers of six seniors: Le’Bryan Nash, Michael Cobbins, Anthony Hickey, Christien Sager, Marek Soucek and Alex Budke.

"I'm so proud of the seniors, all of them," Ford said. "What they stand for and the people they are, and how they have conducted themselves here. They've performed in the classroom extremely well. A couple of them have already graduated and they're all on target to graduate.

"I told them they've all made their mark. Several of them have been to three out of four NCAA Tournaments and won a lot of big games, and have accomplished a lot.

"I love them as people. I love our seniors as young men. I think they're all prepared to move on and that's the goal. As I recruit every player the number one thing I tell them is it's my job to prepare them to leave Oklahoma State. I think they're all ready to move on to different things, some of them already have incredible jobs lined up, (and) some of them will go on to play basketball.

"I think you will find out all of these guys will be successful in whatever they do, and I'm proud of that."

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