Cowboys Come Up Short Against Pitt

Oklahoma State's basketball season came to a disappointing end but not before Byron Eaton and the Cowboys gave fourth-ranked Pittsburgh all it wanted Sunday afternoon in a second-round game of the NCAA Tournament's East Regional. Eaton recorded the second double-double of his career but it wasn't enough as the Panthers defeated the Cowboys 84-76 in Dayton, Ohio.

Eaton, the 5-foot-11 senior point guard, finished with 15 points, 10 assists and 5 steals to lead the Cowboys (23-12).

Pittsburgh, the No. 1 seed in the East Regional, improves to 30-4 and advances to play Xavier (26-7) in next weekend's Sweet 16 in Boston.

"I've got to give it up to our players. The players played with an incredible amount of heart, they played extremely hard. They played like winners today," OSU head coach Travis Ford said. "We got beat by a great team that's much bigger than us. But we fought extremely hard today."

Eaton's two free throws with 3:48 remaining gave the Cowboys a 72-71 lead to cap a second-half comeback. Pitt retook the lead on Sam Young's three-pointer and then Marshall Moses' putback of an Eaton miss tied it up at 74-74 with less than three minutes to play. Pitt outscored OSU 10-2 over the final 2:11 to claim the victory.

The Cowboys shot 63 percent from the field and were outstanding in the first half, and gave the Panthers of the Big East Conference all they wanted. OSU made 10 of its 16 three-pointers in the first half – Terrel Harris led the Cowboys with four treys and Obi Muonelo came off the bench with three – but couldn't pull away from Pitt.

It appeared the Cowboys were going to take at least a three-point lead into the locker room at halftime when Jermaine Dixon missed the front end of a one-and-one situation with 16 seconds left. But every player but Dixon thought it was a two-shot foul, and Dixon raced in to grab the offensive rebound, and he then drilled a three-pointer with two seconds left to tie the game at intermission.

The Panthers then opened the second half with a 15-4 run to take a 64-53 lead. But Eaton would not let the Panthers pull away. He followed a steal and layup with a conventional three-point play to get the Cowboys back within 64-60.

Pittsburgh and DeJuan Blair controlled the boards, outrebounding the Cowboys 41-21. The Panthers had 18 offensive rebounds with Blair grabbing six and Sam Young having five.

"That was the difference in the game. We did a great job of defending the first shot, especially when we needed to. But we couldn't get that rebound and they finished an incredible amount of those second opportunities," Ford said. "We take the lead (on Eaton's free throws) and we get them to miss a shot but they came down with the rebound again."

Eaton and Harris capped his four-year careers at OSU. Harris scored 17 points, while Eaton went out with the 15-point, 10-assist, 5-steal performance.

"I've said all year long we've always got a chance with Byron Eaton on your basketball team," Ford said. "He's going to be very difficult to replace because he can bring you back by himself, he can drive and kick for easy shots like he did today to Obi, James (Anderson) and Terrel. And then he can score and get to the basket as he's done in the last couple of games as well.

"There's no question these guys played like warriors. We just got beat by a great, physical, big basketball team."

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