Oklahoma State faded late Friday at the 76 Classic, allowing Virginia Tech to rally to a 56-51 semifinal win and hand the Cowboys their first loss this season.
The Hokies outscored OSU 18-6 over the final 5:49, surging ahead after the Cowboys had built their biggest lead, 45-38.
Now 4-1, the Cowboys play for third place in the tournament at 5 p.m. Sunday, facing the loser of Friday's UNLV-Murray State semifinal.
OSU shot just 28.8 percent from the floor, had Darrell Williams foul out and lost Matt Pilgrim to an ejection when officials enforced one of this year's points of emphasis â€” the outlawing of swinging elbows.
And the Cowboys were still in the game to the final seconds.
â€œI'm proud of the effort; we're very disappointed we lost,â€ said Cowboys coach Travis Ford. â€œWe definitely felt we put ourselves in position and should have won. I thought we played hard, against a much more experienced team than we are. Against a team that's picked second in the ACC, a team that's got very high expectations this year.
â€œTo be where we were at, we just had a lot of things go against us and were still in position to win the game.â€
JÃ©an-Paul Olukemi led the Cowboys with 17 points, and Marshall Moses added 14 points and 12 rebounds, but the rest of rotation struggled mightily. Ray Penn did score 10 points, but on 4-of-10 shooting. Starters Keiton Page, Nick Sidorakis and Fred Gulley combined to go 0-for-8 from the floor and Pilgrim was 0-for-7 before his ejection with 13:56 remaining in the game.
â€œOur shooting percentage was not good at all,â€ Ford said. â€œA lot of those were wide open, whether they be layups or jump shots.