NORMAN, Okla. (AP) – Moments like these are why Phil Forte came back for his sixth year.
The 23-year-old senior’s 3-pointer with 11 seconds to play was the difference in Oklahoma State’s 68-66 win over rival Oklahoma on Monday night for the Cowboys’ first win in Norman since 2004.
Forte, Oklahoma State’s all-time leader in 3-pointers, said this one ranked among his most memorable shots.
“It’s right up there just because of the rivalry and everything,” he said. “We knew coming in that we would get Oklahoma’s top game and every time that we play each other, it’s always a really good game and really competitive.”
With Oklahoma up 66-63, Oklahoma State’s Mitchell Solomon made two free throws with 24.1 seconds left, then Juwan Evans’s steal eventually led to Forte’s shot that put the Cowboys up 68-66.
“I was in the right spot, right time,” Forte said.
Oklahoma State’s Jeffrey Carroll blocked Kameron McGusty’s 3-pointer in the closing seconds that would have won it for Oklahoma.
“Big win for our program,” Forte said. “It’s been awhile.”
Evans scored 24 points for the Cowboys, who snapped their 12-game losing streak at OU. Evans made just 5 of 20 field goals, but drained 11 of 16 free throws and put Oklahoma’s defense on its heels with his quickness.
Forte and Lindy Waters each scored 11 points for Oklahoma State (14-8, 3-6 Big 12), which won its fourth straight.
“It’s been fun to watch,” Forte said. “This team has never given in. We kept fighting, kept working in practice every single day.”
McGusty, a freshman, scored a season-high 22 points for the Sooners (8-13, 2-7), who have lost four in a row.
“Got to grow through it,” Oklahoma coach Lon Kruger said. “Got to keep working at it. These guys will. Got to have more grit at the finish there.”
Oklahoma led 36-35 at halftime behind 13 points from McGusty. The Cowboys led by 10 in the second half before Oklahoma rallied to take the lead late.
The Cowboys won in atypical fashion. They entered the game averaging 88.4 points per game, fifth nationally, and had scored fewer than 70 points just once this season.
“That’s what I want our program to be about, is hard work, hustle, toughness, and I thought we did that tonight,” Oklahoma State coach Brad Underwood said.
Oklahoma State needed the win to boost its NCAA Tournament hopes. With a rough start to the conference season, the Cowboys couldn’t afford to lose to an opponent at the bottom of the conference standings, especially with an earlier loss to Texas, another struggling team.
Oklahoma remained on a skid after having shown signs of maturity a few weeks ago in wins against West Virginia and Texas Tech. The Sooners have now lost their past three Big 12 games, by five in two overtimes to Iowa State, by one to Texas and now by two to Oklahoma State.
Oklahoma State outrebounded Oklahoma 44-31 and had 20 offensive rebounds for 13 second-chance points.
Undwerwood: “To finish the game 2 for your last 15 — that’s kind of a helpless feeling as a coach,” he said. “You don’t quite know where to go. But you shoot 33 percent on the road and you have to find a way to win. That was an NCAA Tournament-like game, where things get really hard and nothing’s easy.”
Oklahoma State plays at No. 7 West Virginia on Saturday with a shot at the kind of win that gets the tournament committee’s attention.
Oklahoma will play at Texas Tech on Saturday.
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