MuskogeePhoenix.com, Muskogee, OK

OSU

January 26, 2014

Cowboys win a foul-fest

STILLWATER — Oklahoma State got a career performance from Le’Bryan Nash to avoid an upset on its own court Saturday against West Virginia.

With the Mountaineers looking for a payback from a last-second win by OSU in Morgantown, W. Va., Nash scored a career-high 29 points in a foul-infested game — with six players fouling out — that ended with the Cowboys winning 81-75.

“That was just my teammates giving me shots, I’m in the right place under the basket and when they dump it off, I’m going up strong,” said Nash, who had five scoring plays in which he also drew a foul. “That’s the way it is, I just give credit to my teammates because without them I don’t know where I would be. But they keep telling me to be aggressive and that’s what I did today and today was my day.”

With future NBA Draft lottery pick Marcus Smart getting in foul trouble early — he was one of two Cowboys to foul out in the game — the Cowboys couldn’t do much on the offensive end, which allowed West Virginia to lead for much of the first half. But then the spark plug of Stevie Clark and Phil Forte came off the bench and pushed the Pokes out to a seven-point halftime lead.

“Stevie Clark and Phil Forte just gave us an incredible energy, made a lot of hustle plays at the end of the first half and really gave us a boost,” Cowboys coach Travis Ford said.

Clark scored 10 points, just his second double-digit scoring performance, while Forte scored 13 thanks to knocking down all eight of his free throws.

Oklahoma State tied the game with just under two minutes left before the break then went on a 7-0 run, capped with a putback dunk by Markel Brown followed by a steal by Forte on the inbounds play and dish to Nash for a dunk before the buzzer.

“I actually wasn’t paying attention to the clock, I got the offensive tip back for the dunk and the crowd went crazy. Little Phil and Stevie were playing great defense again, created a steal and Phil got the ball and gave it to LB,” said Brown, who finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds. “I was ready for some more. I turned around and the backboard was red, so that was a great spark going into halftime and it gave us a boost.”

Brown supplied another highlight moment in the second half that really got the fans back into the game after WVU had taken the lead with 14 minutes remaining. With OSU in a full-court press, Forte got another of his five steals which led to Brown slamming home a 360 dunk on the breakaway.

“I didn’t care if he was going to jump or not. Either way it was going to be a foul or two points, but when I got it I just knew I was going to do it,” Brown said.

“Every time I get a break, I have a great set of athletic ability, it would be a shame to waste it and not do something for the crowd. Fans like to come to the games and see things like that, so I had to give it to them. It’s a great spark for this team, when I do a dunk like that and the crowd gets rowdy, it gives us a boost of energy on defense.”

OSU and OU meet in Norman in an 8 p.m. tipoff Monday (ESPN).

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