Yor Anei had 13 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks as the host Oklahoma State Cowboys defeated the Western Michigan Broncos 70-63 on Friday night at Stillwater, Okla.
Anei, a 6-10, 235-pound sophomore center, who finished seventh in the nation last season with 85 blocks, snapped a 61-61 tie with a dunk and a layup to give the Cowboys a 65-61 lead with 1:08 left in the game.
Western Michigan junior guard Michael Flowers, who entered the game as the Mid-American Conference’s leading scorer (21.4), had a game-high 15 points, but he made just 1-of-2 from the foul line after Anei’s second straight bucket, and that proved to be an important miss.
The Cowboys, who return all five starters from a team that sported a disappointing 12-20 record last season, improved to 5-0 overall and 4-0 at home.
Cowboys point guard Isaac “Ice” Likekele, who won a gold medal this summer while for playing for the Under-19 USA Basketball national team at the FIBA World Cup, had 10 points, four steals and three assists.
Western Michigan (4-2) also got 12 points, nine rebounds and four assists off the bench from junior-college transfer Rafael Cruz Jr. and 11 points from sophomore guard Jason Whitens.
The Broncos, who entered the game ranked 13th in the nation with an 88.2 scoring average and first in free throws made, shot 40.4 percent from the floor, including 9-of-29 on 3-pointers (31.0 percent).
Oklahoma State won the game despite shooting just 37.5 percent, including 7-for-25 on 3-pointers (28.0 percent).
This was the first meeting ever between these programs. Western Michigan is also the first Mid-American Conference team ever to visit Gallagher-Iba Arena.
Even so, the Broncos were not intimidated. In fact, Western Michigan was on top for most of the game’s first nine minutes, leading 5-0, 13-7 and 18-15 before Oklahoma State found its groove.
The Cowboys used a 9-0 run midway through the first half to surge ahead.
But Western Michigan used a 5-0 run — including a 3-pointer by Flowers with three seconds left - to close its deficit to 35-34 at halftime.
There were a couple of lead changes early in the second half, and Western Michigan tied the score 61-61 on Jared Printy’s 3-pointer with 2:28 left. That set the stage for Anei’s two late buckets and OSU’s victory.
—Field Level Media