A week after defeating traditional basketball powerhouses UConn and Georgetown in the span of three days, the Oklahoma State Cowboys struggled to get past NCAA Division II Rogers State on Wednesday night. The Cowboys went on a 13-0 run late in the game to break open a five-point game in securing a 101-85 victory over the team from Claremore, Oklahoma.
The Cowboys improve to 6-1 with the victory. The loss will not count on Rogers State’s 4-2 record as it is officially recorded as an exhibition game for the Hillcats.
It was a struggle from start to finish for the Cowboys as they allowed the Hillcats to shoot 56.9 percent from the field and only out-rebounded the much smaller Division II team by four (36-32).
“To let someone come in your house and shoot 57 percent, 50 percent from the three-point line, there wasn’t much energy on the defensive end, there wasn’t much fundamental foundation on the defensive end either, and that’s what’s disappointing,” OSU head coach Brad Underwood said.
Rogers State only trailed 81-76 with about six minutes remaining before the Cowboys went on the 13-0 run to pull away.
Leyton Hammonds scored just six points while only seeing 14 minutes of action because of foul trouble. But the senior scored six points – converting a conventional three-point play after grabbing a rebound off a missed free throw and then draining a three-point shot – during the critical three-minute stretch late in the game as the Cowboys secured the victory.
Jawun Evans (25 points, 5 steals, 4 rebounds and 4 assists) led the way as seven players scored 10 or more points for the Cowboys. Also scoring in double figures were backup point guard Brandon Averette (15 points), Jeffrey Carroll (11), Phil Forte (10), Mitchell Solomon (10), Lindy Waters (10) and Lucas N’Guessan (10).
“Tremendous amount of props to Rogers State. They thoroughly took it to us,” Underwood said. “They were aggressive, (and) they played harder than we did. They’re a good basketball team.
“They controlled the whole tempo of the game with better effort. I think all you have to do is look at our steals totals – nine (total as a team), and five of them came from Jawun. But it shows our inactivity on the defensive end.”
One player that Underwood did praise was Solomon, who played his best game of the young season with 10 points and five rebounds in 15 minutes of action. He had five points and nine rebounds in the last three games.
“I thought Mitchell Solomon was a big spark in the second half and got us going,” Underwood said.
The Cowboys have now scored 100 or more points in four of the first seven games, and with their next 100-point outing will tie the school record for most 100-point games in a season (set in 1988-89).
Oklahoma State is back in action at 8 p.m. Saturday when the Cowboys go on the road to face 22nd-ranked Maryland. The Terps are 7-1 following a 73-59 loss to Pittsburgh on Tuesday night.