An Ugly End To The Season

Travis Ford

Could it have gotten any uglier for the Oklahoma State Cowboys on Friday? In a season in which the Cowboys have played some ugly basketball, they may have saved their worst performance for last, and unfortunately it was on the biggest stage of all – the NCAA Tournament. OSU's season came to an end with a 85-77 loss to Gonzaga in the second round of the NCAA tourney in San Diego.

In a game in which a record 61 fouls were called (33 against OSU and 28 on Gonzaga), the most in an NCAA Tournament game that did not go into overtime, the Cowboys fell behind on Gary Bell Jr.'s 3-pointer just seconds into the game and never recovered. The Cowboys finish the season with a 21-13 record after beginning 16-3 but they went 5-10 over the last six weeks of the season.

How ugly was it for the Cowboys? They shot 40 percent from the field, made just three 3-pointers (the second fewest in 34 games this season), committed 33 fouls (with Le'Bryan Nash, Kamari Murphy and Leyton Hammonds all fouling out), and made just 22 of 37 free throws (at one point in the second half, they were 7-of-19 from the charity stripe).

The Cowboys allowed the Bulldogs to open the game with a 9-0 run, and they trailed 33-24 with a little over four minutes to play in the first half. OSU pulled within 34-33 on Marcus Smart's jumper with 2:42 remaining but Gonzaga closed out the half on a 9-1 run, including a pair of 3-pointers, to take a 43-34 halftime lead. The Cowboys would get no closer than three in the second half.

It was the final game in a Cowboys uniform for senior Markel Brown and sophomore Marcus Smart, who bypassed entering the NBA Draft a year ago after his freshman season to return to play one more season at OSU. But he said all season that this would be his final year of playing college basketball.

Brown finished with 20 points, 3 rebounds and 2 assists as he wraps up his college playing career.

"We went up against a great Gonzaga team that ran the offense well," Brown said. "They jumped out on us, they delivered the first blow and after that we weren't able to … whenever we made a run at them, they kind of countered it, so we were playing on our heels the whole game. It's very tough playing like that."

Smart became the first player in NCAA Tournament history to record at least 20 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in a game. The 6-4 sophomore's final state line reads: 23 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, 6 steals, 6 turnovers and 1 block.

"It's hard to explain how disappointed I am," Smart said. "We've been through a lot this year, but we didn't accomplish the goals we set this year. A lot of things didn't go our way (against Gonzaga). That's all I can say."

However, Smart says he will have fond memories of his two years at Oklahoma State.

"My teammates. They made the two years here unbelievable for me. I'll probably never come across another group of guys like this. This is a team no matter what happens, we can always count on each other," he said.

Phil Forte was the only other Cowboy to score in double figures with 12 points.

Gonzaga, 29-6, advances to face No. 1 seed Arizona in a third-round game Sunday. The Bulldogs were led by Kevin Pangos with 26 points, including making eight consecutive free throws in the final 1:31 to sew up the victory. He got help from Gary Bell Jr. (17 points), 7-1, 295-pounder center Przemek Kamowski (15 points and 10 rebounds), and Kyle Dranginis (12 points).

The Cowboys have now lost their first game in the NCAA Tournament in their last three appearances (2014 to Gonzaga, 2013 to Oregon and 2010 to Georgia Tech).

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