Cowboys Lose Heartbreaker

Oklahoma State seemed to get every bounce and be on the receiving end of every questionable call when the Cowboys won 31 of 35 games to advance to the Final Four two years ago. But the basketball gods must be paying OSU back this season, and it couldn't have been more evident than Monday night as the Cowboys snatched defeat from the jaws of victory as Terrell Everett hit two free throws with just 0.6 seconds left to give the 17th-ranked Oklahoma Sooners a 67-66 victory at the Lloyd Noble Center.

It was an improbable end for the Cowboys, who fell to 15-14 overall and 5-10 in Big 12 play. The Cowboys have now lost six games this season on the last possession of the game, and are 2-5 in Big 12 games decided by two points or less.

OSU appeared to get the win in the most unlikely of fashions when Jamaal Brown was fouled with 4.7 seconds remaining. The Sooner led 65-64 when Kevin Bookout missed a free throw with 8.8 seconds left, but the rebound was tipped out by OU's Nate Carter. Instead of going to a Sooner teammate it went directly to Brown at midcourt with nothing but clear sailing for what appeared to be an easy lay up. OU's Michael Neal fouled Brown to prevent the easy go-ahead basket, but the Cowboy point guard calmly stepped to the line with 4.7 seconds remaining and made the two free throws to give OSU the one-point lead.

The Sooners, without any timeouts remaining, inbounded to Everett who raced up court. Cowboy freshman Byron Eaton stepped in front of Everett just as he passed midcourt and the Sooner lost the ball out of bounds. It could have been a no call, a charge on Everett or a block by Eaton – two of the three outcomes would have given the Cowboys the victory. But Eaton was called for the block with just 0.6 seconds on the clock, and Everett sank both free throws to give the Sooners their fourth consecutive one-point victory.

"The thing I told the players afterwards is that they really represented Oklahoma State well tonight," OSU head coach designate Sean Sutton said. "I'm very, very proud of the effort and the passion they played with tonight. I thought they competed tremendously from start to finish. We made a few bad plays down the stretch, but certainly played well enough to win. It's unfortunate that it didn't turn out that way, but I couldn't be prouder of a team."

The final 60 seconds were some of the most exciting you'll ever see played. The Cowboys came out of a timeout with 1:10 remaining and the score tied 61-61 intent on getting a good shot. But with the 35-second shot clock winding down Eaton had the ball nearly 30 feet from the basket. He launched a prayer that hit nothing but net to put the Cowboys up 64-61 with 35 seconds remaining. Taj Gray answered with a basket inside the paint a few seconds later, and the Sooners called their final timeout with 21 seconds left.

OSU got the ball inbounds against the OU press and the Sooners were forced to foul JamesOn Curry with 14.1 seconds on the clock. The sophomore guard, a 72 percent free-throw shooter, missed the front end of the one-and-one opportunity and then 6-foot-8, 240-pound Kevin Bookout got behind the Cowboy defense. Bookout scored and was fouled by Curry with 8.8 seconds remaining to put the Sooners up 65-64, and set up the game's final plays - Brown's two free throws to put the Cowboys back on top before the foul on Eaton which sent Everett to the line with 0.6 seconds left on the clock.

"I'm very proud of the way our players have hung through this whole situation. They continue to compete, they continue to battle ... they played their hearts out tonight and did everything they could to win the game," Sean Sutton said.

One player who exemplified what Sean Sutton was talking about is sophomore Marcus Dove, who played 27 minutes after missing Saturday's win over Texas Tech with a sprained ankle. The 6-foot-9 Dove finished with 9 points (making all four of his field goals), 5 rebounds and 3 steals.

"It says a lot about his heart – the fact that he was hurt and hasn't been able to practice," Sean Sutton said of Dove, who only allowed Everett to score 13 points – and take just six shots – after he scored 23 in the Sooners' win in Stillwater three weeks ago. "We were not sure how many minutes he was going to be able to play. He just kinda willed his way through that game, and showed again what a great defensive player he is, and made some very pivotal plays on the offensive end as well."

It was Dove's play during a 60-second stretch midway through the second half that almost won it for the Cowboys. The Sooners had pulled within 50-48 before Dove converted a conventional three-point play, and then his steal led to Mario Boggan's fast break dunk just seconds later. On OU's next possession Dove got another steal and fast break lay up, and the Cowboys were back up 57-48.

Boggan played one of his best games of the season – scoring a team-high 21 points on 10 of 13 shooting – before fouling out with 5:31 left in the game. Eaton, despite making the foul in the game's final seconds, had his best game in a while with 11 points, 7 steals and 3 assists while making 2-of-3 three-pointers.

"I thought from about the 12-minute mark on in the first half and on through the second half that our defensive pressure, our defensive intensity, was as good as it's been all year. We forced them into a lot of turnovers," Sean Sutton said. "We probably had more run throughs tonight, that led to easy baskets on the other end, than we had in any other game. It was a solid team effort. Mario certainly played well. Losing him to five fouls certainly hurt the team. I didn't think we were the same offensively after he went out. They all played hard, and did the things we talked about needing to do if we were going to win this basketball game.

"They wanted to win so bad. They felt very embarrassed about the way they performed in the first Bedlam game, and did not play up to the standards that our teams normally do. But they responded in a big-time way down here. They probably played as well, and as inspired, and as tough as any team we've ever brought down here, and we've won five times. I'm very proud of their effort and I still think we can win a lot of games."

The regular season comes to a close Saturday night when the Cowboys host the Baylor Bears at Gallagher-Iba Arena. Tip-off is scheduled for 6 p.m.

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