The Oklahoma State men’s basketball team led for the majority of Monday’s Big 12 Conference game, but fell to West Virginia.
The Cowboys lost 87-84 after a game-tying 3-pointer fell short with seconds left. The Cowboys (7-3, 1-3) were two days removed from a big road win at Texas Tech. No. 14-ranked West Virginia improved to 9-3 overall and 2-2 in the conference.
Back-to-back 3-pointers by WVU sophomore Miles McBride gave the Mountainers their first lead of the game with less than three minutes remaining. McBride’s buckets put WVU up four points before OSU freshman Cade Cunningham stopped the run.
The two teams traded buckets in the next minutes before McBride hit a jumper and Likekele grabbed an offensive rebound and scored a tough layup to close the lead to two points with 44.7 seconds remaining.
WVU turned the ball over seconds later by stepping out of bounds to avoid a double team. However, Cunningham fouled a few seconds later on a charge call. Cunningham had 25 points and nine rebounds on the night.
After WVU junior Kedrian hit 1 of 2 foul shots, OSU grad transfer Bryce Williams missed the front end of his 1-and-1. WVU junior Sean McNeil hit 1 of 2 from the foul line seconds later.
OSU answered with a 3-pointer from freshman Rondel Walker, cutting the lead to one point. WVU made two more free throws before OSU missed its last shots.
The Cowboys lost sophomore starter Kalib Boone with 3:50 left in the game after he committed his fifth foul. He finished the game with four points and four rebounds on a night where he replaced freshman Matthew-Alexander Moncrieffe, who was out with an injury, in the starting lineup.
The opening minutes of the second half saw OSU freshman Cade Cunningham and WVU junior Derek Culver squaring off on both ends of the court. Cunningham dropped 10 points in the first five minutes of the half, and the 6-foot-10 Culver scored a couple buckets with the freshman phenom guarding him.
The Cowboys pushed their lead past 10 points early in the second half. It was extended to 15 points on a wide open dunk by sophomore Bernard Kouma – his first shot attempt of the game – and a bucket by sophomore Keylan Boone.
Freshman Rondel Walker added a pair of free throws to make a 19-point lead before WVU hit back-to-back 3-pointers. The Mountaineers continued cutting the lead as they went on an 11-0 run, trimming the lead to eight points before OSU sophomore Avery Anderson III hit 1 of 2 free throws.
The Cowboys saw their lead dwindle to just five points with just under eight minutes remaining. Seconds later a foul on WVU drew a loud applause from the home crowd who’d seen their Cowboys commit more fouls in the second half. Walker hit both ensuing foul shots.
Williams gave the Cowboys a 45-35 lead at halftime with a 3-pointer from the left wing. Likekele dished the assist to record his second of the half.
Likekele led all players with 16 points in the first half on 6-of-7 shooting, but just 4 of 7 from the foul line. Cunningham and Williams each added nine points in the half.
The Cowboys shot 53 percent (16 of 30) from the field in the half, but just 27 percent (3 of 11) from 3-point range. Meanwhile, the Mountaineers shot 33 percent (13 of 40) from the field and 4 of 14 from long range.
OSU came out shooting well the first few minutes of the game before eventually cooling off back to normal numbers. But, the Cowboys made their first five shots and their first two free throws as it grabbed a 14-7 lead in the first four minutes of the contest.
Likekele scored six of those points with four coming on a pair of shots in the paint. The junior from Arlington, Texas, later added a dunk and two foul shots to a 7-0 run – also sparked by a 3-pointer from freshman Rondel Walker – that pushed the OSU lead to 12 points eight minutes into the game.
West Virginia closed the lead to just four points with less than six minutes remaining in the half, but never led during the first 20 minutes. Both teams traded buckets during the final minutes with Likekele scoring six of the last 11 points for the Cowboys.
OSU will next play at 5 p.m. Saturday at Kansas State. The Wildcats are 5-6 overall and 1-2 in Big 12 action with a game at No. 18 Texas Tech on Tuesday night.