Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford called over sophomore guard Tyree Griffin for a hallway hug.
"You hit those free throws," Ford told him. "You're paying attention."
Apparently, all the Cowboys are.
Griffin made four foul shots in the final 18 seconds -- and Oklahoma State needed every one of them to hold off Long Beach State 82-77 and claim third place at the Charleston Classic on Sunday night.
The Cowboys led 49-34 at the half, yet trailed 69-67 with five minutes to play. After building a 78-71 lead, Oklahoma State (4-1) withstood a wild finish for the victory.
"I told the team that with all the adversity we're going through, the injuries, the illnesses, to figure out how to win the game," Ford said. "Both teams could've won this game. We somehow figured out how to hit some free throws and finish the game out."
It wasn't easy.
Besides missing sparkplug scorer Phil Forte III for a second straight game with a left arm injury, the Cowboys struggled defensively for much of the second half.
It all came back together in the final minutes as Oklahoma State won two of its three games at TD Arena.
Freshman Juwan Evans led the way with a career high 21 points. In all, five Cowboys reached double figures.
"I'm learning every game we play and that's making me a better player," Evans said.
The Cowboys (4-1) led 78-71 after Jeff Newberry's two foul shots with 43 seconds to go. But Oklahoma State's Chris Olivier was given a technical foul for undercutting a player while Evans was also called for a foul, giving Long Beach State's Justin Bibbins four foul shots which he made.
Bibbins made two more foul shots with 27 seconds left, drawing the 49ers to 78-77. That's when Griffin made his free throws to preserve the victory.
Long Beach missed its last 11 shots, including a 3-pointer by Nick Faust trailing 80-77.
Faust led the 49ers (3-2) with 15 points.
Oklahoma State had a 15-point lead entering the second half, yet trailed 69-67 after Long Beach State's furious comeback.
Anthony Allen and Newberry had 13 points each while Jeffrey Carroll and Olivier had 11 apiece for Oklahoma State.
Roschon Prince scored 14, Gabe Levin and Travis Hammonds each had 12 and Bibbins added 10 for the 49ers.
Trailing 13-7 early, Oklahoma State took off on a 21-5 run to gain control and move in front 28-18.
They stretched the lead to 49-34 at the break after Evans' foul shots in the final seconds.
Long Beach State saw the problems of its last outing show up again.
The 49ers were up early against No. 6 Virginia on Friday night before being run out of the building in an 87-52 loss. For a second straight game, Long Beach State could not sustain their quick start and fell way behind.
Long Beach State coach Dan Monson felt his team lost its defensive identity too often in its three games here.
"I don't know if the Virginia game knocked us off of our identity," he said. "We got that back a little bit in the second half."