Jawun Evans and the Oklahoma State Cowboys needed Saturday night’s game to last a few tenths of a second longer. If so, the Cowboys would have upset the Terrapins on their home court, where Maryland is 39-3 over the last three seasons.
But the OSU sophomore’s short jumper from the baseline swished through the net just after the final buzzer sounded and Maryland escaped with a 71-70 victory. Maryland’s Melo Trimble hit what proved to be two game-winning free throws with 9.4 seconds on the clock.
The Cowboys pushed the ball up the court and Evans shot bounced off the rim. Both teams fought for the rebound before it bounced to Evans on the baseline and he threw a rainbow that hit nothing but net. But it came after the buzzer had sounded.
The loss drops the Cowboys to 6-2 on the season, while the Terrapins improve to 8-1.
“I’m proud of our guys. We fought and gave ourselves every opportunity to win the game,” said Brad Underwood, Cowboys head coach. “You can’t go on the road … you know you’re not going to get calls on the road. Great atmosphere. This is one of the great home courts in all the country, and I was proud of how our team reacted. There were 17,400 here tonight. There’s a reason Maryland basketball is what it is.
“Their guy (Melo Trimble) got the call at the end of the game, I didn’t see the foul (on Lucas N’Guessan) but that’s to be determined, and then our guy doesn’t get one.”
The Cowboys led for much of the night, including 60-48 following two free throws by Phil Forte with about 12 minutes remaining in the game. But the Terrapins closed out the game with a 23-10 run to pull off the come-from-behind victory.
“I thought we got good looks (during that stretch), we had some really good opportunities,” Underwood said. “Leyton (Hammonds) had two or three good looks there, and I think Phil had one in there. We kept giving them opportunities, and I think that’s when they got a pretty good run there on the offensive glass.
“I’m still figuring out how to play with this team in those environments, and run an offense, get the ball to Jawun in ball screen areas. Their ball screen defense was much better in the second half, and he got some opportunities that he missed that Jawun normally makes.
“Again, you’ve got to step up and make shots, you’ve got to get a rebound, we missed free throws. Jawun misses one late that he’s not going to miss that most nights. On the road, you’ve got to make a play, and we didn’t make it.”
Evans led the Cowboys with 16 points, 5 rebounds, 5 assists and 2 steals, while Jeffrey Carroll posted a double-double (15 points and 12 rebounds). Forte was the only other Cowboy in double figures with 14 points but he was 3-of-16 shooting (and made only two of his 10 three-point attempts).
“(Carroll)’s been not only one of the best players in the Big 12 but one of the best players in the country,” Underwood said. “He came into an environment tonight and at times dominated the ball game. His progress has just been remarkable. I’ve been really proud of him and his development, and you know what he’s been consistent. He’s done it almost every single night no matter who the opponent is.”
Underwood says he learned some things about his team despite the loss.
“I think we’re going to be a good basketball team. I think we grew up (tonight),” he said. “We’ve got to see different performances from our freshmen. We’ve got to see Lindy Waters be more productive and not lose three balls in the first half that he gets knocked out of his hands. We’ve got to see a different Cam McGriff than we saw tonight.
“I thought Brandon (Averette) gave us some spark and was good, and Lucas (N’Guessan) was dominant in the first half and doesn’t have a rebound in the second half. Six offensive rebounds in the first half, and he doesn’t have one in the second. Those frehsmen will grow, they will continue to get better, and not very often is Phil going to have a night like he had. He had a lot of clean looks, and Phil’s not going to go 3-for-16 on most nights.”
The Cowboys have time off this week for finals before returning to action next Saturday at Tulsa.