WACO, Texas – Markel Brown, teetering from exhaustion, considered what had just happened and figured it for the most cruel blow of all.
And oh, have the Cowboys taken some blows, losing for the seventh straight time at Baylor on Monday night, 70-64, this time in overtime. And that’s where the cruelness came in.
Brown and the short-handed Cowboys produced another gritty performance and led much of the second half, only to trail by three with: 02.9 remaining and the Bears inbounding the ball out of bounds on the Oklahoma State baseline.
But Baylor guard Gary Franklin threw the ball away, with the ball finding freshman reserve Leyton Hammonds, who fired in a 3-pointer at the buzzer to force overtime.
During a stretch when few breaks have gone their way, the Cowboys suddenly found a reprieve.
“It was a breath of fresh air,” Brown said. “It was almost like the basketball gods wanted us to win it.”
“Then they took it away from us,” Brown said.
Baylor surged ahead quickly in the extra period and outscored the Cowboys 12-6 over the five minutes, leaving OSU with the worst losing streak since 1972-73, Sam Aubrey’s final season as coach in Stillwater.
Those basketball gods?
“Oh man, they’re not on our side right now,” Brown said, managing a half-smile, after another all-in performance that saw him never come off the floor and score a game-high 26 points on 10-of-19 shooting and hand out six assists with no turnovers.
“It’s a tough slate right now. We’ll be all right. As long as we keep playing hard. We get Marcus (Smart) back after this one. And we have a home game. As long as this team keeps playing the way we did the last two games, we’ll get a win.”
It was OSU’s sixth loss during the skid in which they led in the final five minutes.
The Cowboys were still ahead, 55-54, with 3:20 remaining. But they didn’t score again until the game-ending buzzer, when Hammonds fired in only his second 3-pointer of the season — his first since the season opener — tying the score at 58-58.
That OSU was that close late was an accomplishment.
Baylor battered the Cowboys on the boards, 51-36, taking full advantage over their size advantage with 22 offensive rebounds that contributed to 16 second-chance points.
OSU’s offense was mostly limited to Brown and Phil Forte, who combined for 46 points, with Forte contributing 20. No other Cowboy had more than six.
“And you can’t go in the Big 12 and have two guys score and that’s it,” said Cowboys coach Travis Ford.
Still, Ford saluted his team’s effort, still playing without Smart, who served the final game of his three-game suspension.
“Look at the stats, there’s no reason we should have even been in the game,” Ford said. “Other than fight. Other than effort. Other than will. “That’s it. There’s no reason other than that.”