STILLWATER, Okla. — For the first time in more than a month, Mike Boynton and his Oklahoma State men’s basketball team left a conference game with smiles on their faces.
Behind a career-high tying performance by Thomas Dziagwa, the Cowboys knocked off TCU on Monday night inside Gallagher-Iba Arena. They won 68-61, ending a five-game losing skid and eight-game losing streak in Big 12 games.
“Obviously, really gold win. Any win in our league is a quality win – one against a really good team,” OSU coach Mike Boynton said. “I’m also happy that our kids were able to break through in some ways in terms of outcome. We’ve played really, competitive basketball for the most part, but validating it with a win is always the icing on the cake. Happy to be able to put it behind us and not have to keep hearing about a losing streak.”
The last conference win for OSU came Jan. 12 in Morgantown, West Virginia. OSU beat South Carolina two weeks later as part of the SEC/Big 12 Challenge.
Dziagwa scored 23 points on the night, making 8 of 14 shots including 6 of 11 from 3-point range. It tied his career high that he set Saturday at Texas.
“I’m really happy, I’m not going to lie to you,” Dziagwa said. “It really means that I have really great teammates and a great coaching staff. … To be honest, I wouldn’t trade these guys for anybody.”
Lindy Waters added 14 points in the victory, while Isaac Likekele scored 13 points for the Cowboys. Waters and Likekele combined to score the final seven OSU points, including the final two OSU field goals.
Likekele recorded one of his two blocks during the final minute. Seconds later, he tipped in a missed shot by Waters to push the Cowboys’ lead to six points with 27 seconds remaining. A missed TCU shot on the other end sealed up the win.
Yor Anei sank his second field goal of the game – with just under four minutes remaining in the game – to end a scoring drought by both team that stretched for more than two minutes. It also put OSU up by five points.
TCU cut the lead to a pair with a 3-pointer on an inbound play. Lindy Waters gave OSU some cushion with a fadeaway jumper late in the shot clock.
For the first 10 minutes of the second half, OSU had an answer for every TCU run. The Horned Frogs trimmed the lead to six points, but Waters ended a scoreless streak of more than three minutes with a 3-pointer. Dziagwa followed it with a contested transition layup to push the lead back to 11 points.
Dziagwa later sank his sixth 3-pointer of the game. He hit 1 of 2 free throws with 8:26 remaining in the game, tying his career high of 23 points.
The Cowboys led at halftime for the first time since their Jan. 26 game against South Carolina in the SEC/Big 12 Challenge, and first conference game three days prior to that against Bedlam-rival Oklahoma. They led 39-30 on Monday.
Three-point shooting helped OSU build the nine-point lead, as it sank 8 of 18 from behind the arc compared to TCU’s 2 of 9 from 3-point range. The Cowboys began 6 of 8 before cooling off during the final 10 minutes of the half.
The first six shots made by the Cowboys were 3-pointers, and they all came within the first 8 minutes and 31 seconds. That was followed by a traditional three-point play by Likekele and a four-point play by Waters.
That built the Cowboys’ lead to 13 points midway through the half. TCU quickly trimmed it to four, but the Cowboys answered with a 6-0 run of their own. Three points from Duncan Demuth and a Dziagwa 3-pointer – which gave him 12 points in the half – helped push the lead back to 10 points.
TCU actually shot a higher percentage (42.9) from the field in the first half and made all four of its free throw attempts, but OSU – which shot 37.5 percent – led by nine at the break.
OSU will be on the road for its next two games, as it travels to Kansas State and Texas Tech before returning home to host Kansas.