By JOHN TRANCHINA, Associated Press
STILLWATER (AP) — Oklahoma State was still feeling the effects of a disastrous collapse in their season opener on Saturday, but eventually rebounded with a strong performance.
Cam McGriff scored 20 points and had 10 rebounds to help lead the Cowboys to an 82-60 victory over UTSA Wednesday night.
Thomas Dziagwa had 16 points and six rebounds while Lindy Waters added 14 points, seven rebounds and a game-high six assists, as Oklahoma State (1-1) won its 43rd consecutive home opener.
“There are no bad wins, that’s for sure,” said Cowboys coach Mike Boynton. “We learned how delicate the line is between winning and losing on Saturday, so we’re certainly going to enjoy this accomplishment. It wasn’t always pretty, but I thought we did a lot of positive things, things to build on. There were also some things that we can learn from and try to improve on.”
Byron Frohnen led UTSA (0-3) with 11 points, nine rebounds and five steals, while Adokiye Iyaye had 10 points. After committing 19 and 20 turnovers in their first two games, the Roadrunners had 18 in this one.
“We opened the game pretty sharp, we were attacking, made good, simple plays, we played pretty hard defensively to start, then they just turned it completely on us,” said UTSA coach Steve Henson. “It’s kind of the same story — turnovers are killing us, perimeter shooting has been a struggle for us right now and because of that, it affects our defense a little bit.”
It was a nice bounce-back performance for Oklahoma State after allowing Charlotte to erase a 24-point Cowboy lead over the final 14 minutes on Saturday, including a game-clinching 3-pointer with 0.6 seconds remaining.
Oklahoma State, which has nine newcomers on the roster, including six freshmen, fell behind 9-0 and 13-3 early, but eventually found its confidence. The Cowboys built a 14-point advantage late in the first half, then saw it dwindle to just four early in the second, but responded with a game-changing 18-1 run that put them ahead 56-35 with 11:34 remaining.
“I felt like we were still affected psychologically from the game the other day,” Boynton said of the early deficit. “That thing had kind of had a lingering effect even in practice a little bit. It was just psychologically getting over that, putting it behind them. I’m glad we were able to get going.”
The Cowboys led 61-41 after Maurice Calloo’s basket with 8:45 to go and UTSA scored the next five points to make the OSU crowd a bit nervous, but Oklahoma State answered with a 10-2 run to put the game out of reach for good.
“They took it to us in the second half,” Henson said. “They made the run and we just couldn’t respond. Our defense has got to be better to overcome rough stretches offensively.”
UTSA: The Roadrunners struggled with inconsistency throughout the contest. They looked impressive early, jumping out to an early 13-3 lead over the first five-plus minutes. The offense went dry after that, at one point late in the opening half missing nine straight shots from the floor and hitting just 1-of-13. Then, trailing 36-22 with 3:01 left in the first half, UTSA went on a 12-2 run over the next four and a half minutes, pulling to within four just 1:24 into the second half. That was followed by another stretch where they were outscored 18-1 and missed seven consecutive shots.
Oklahoma State: Considering how their previous game ended, with the Cowboys shooting just 2-for-20 from the floor, including 0-for-8 from 3-point range, over the final 14 minutes of the Charlotte game, there was some restlessness in the building when the Cowboys started so poorly, missing their first nine shots from the floor and three of their first four free throw attempts. But Oklahoma State bounced back, rattling off a 14-3 run over the next five minutes to take the lead on Waters’ 3-pointer with 11:24 left in the opening half. From there, the Cowboys continued to build their advantage and looked pretty solid.
YOUTH IS SERVED
Oklahoma State started two freshmen, forward Yor Anei and Isaac Likekele, and had four other true frosh play at least seven minutes of action in reserve. Calloo and Duncan Demuth each earned over 20 minutes of floor time. “Playing six freshmen isn’t easy on your stress levels as a coach, but it’s who we are,” Boynton said. “We’re a young team and those kids have earned the opportunity to learn in these situations.”
STAT OF THE NIGHT
Both teams struggled on free throws. Despite the victory, Oklahoma State shot just 50 percent (10 of 20) from the line, with McGriff hitting just 2 of 4, and Demuth missing all four of his attempts. UTSA wasn’t much better, starting 4 of 9 before finishing 13 of 21 (62 percent) for the night. “We got to do better,” Boynton said. “We’ve got guys who are very capable. We shoot free throws (in practice) ad nauseum, so that’s not something that’s very pleasing.”
UTSA: The Roadrunners head to Estero, Florida, to participate in the Gulf Coast Showcase tournament, beginning with a matchup against UC Irvine on Monday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys take on Charleston at home on Sunday afternoon.
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