The Oklahoma State Cowboys looked like they were going to start the Puerto Rico Tip-Off with a bad loss to Akron, but three Phil Forte free throws in overtime propelled OSU to a 69-65 win over the Akron Zips in the opening round of the tournament Thursday morning.
The Cowboys led by 10 with just under ten minutes remaining after a jumper from Le'Bryan Nash made the score 53-43. From there, the Zips slowly chipped away at the lead, finally tying the score at 61 with a minute remaining on a layup by Zeke Marshall.
Akron continued their methodical pace in overtime, scoring the first four points to take a 65-61 lead with 3:35 remaining. That's when Forte took over. First, Forte hit a three-pointer, cutting the lead to one. On the next trip down the court, Forte was fouled by Akron's Chauncey Gilliam while shooting another three. Forte made all three to give OSU a 67-65 lead.
After an Akron miss, OSU's Marcus Smart made two free throws for the final margin.
Nash led the Cowboys with 20 points. Markel Brown had 15, and Smart chipped in with 14 points and a team-high nine rebounds. Brian Walsh led Akron with 14 points.
J.P. Olukemi injured his knee in the first half and did not return to the game. OSU coach Travis Ford said it didn't look good, but wouldn't comment further until the doctors evaluate Olukemi.
The Cowboys will take on Tennessee tomorrow morning at 9:30 a.m. in the second round of the Puerto Rico Tip-Off.