Senior Lindy Waters III scored 19 points, including a pair of clutch 3-pointers in the final minutes, to lead Oklahoma State to a 64-57 victory over Yale in an NIT Season Tip-off opener Sunday afternoon in Stillwater, Okla.
Sophomore forward Yor Anei added 12 points, seven rebounds and two blocks for the Cowboys (4-0), who allowed the Bulldogs to forge six second-half ties but never let the visitors take a second-half lead during a physical, defensive-oriented clash.
Yale (2-2) got 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks from junior forward Paul Atkinson. Junior guard Azar Swain and sophomore guard Matthue Cotton each scored 11.
Waters’ late hot streak enabled Oklahoma State to shoot 40 percent from the field while Yale was limited to 38.2 percent — the Cowboys’ fourth consecutive opponent to shoot below 40 percent.
Yale forged a 7-7 tie at the 15:39 mark on Atkinson’s layup — his first basket of the day — but then the Cowboys threatened to run the Bulldogs out of the building.
Yale managed just three points over the next nine minutes as the Cowboys seized a 23-10 lead. Five of Oklahoma State’s baskets during that spree — including graduate transfer Jonathan Laurent’s dunk — came off Yale turnovers.
The Bulldogs settled down and started to find Atkinson near the rim. His layup and dunk, coupled with freshman guard August Mahoney’s 3-pointer, helped Yale pull within four points multiple times in the first half. Swain’s layup with 16 seconds left sliced Oklahoma State’s lead to 27-23 at the half.
Yale closed the rest of the gap early in the second half — pulling into a 29-29 tie on Jordan Bruner’s layup with 17:10 to play — and then the teams settled into a copycat rhythm.
Oklahoma State would score to regain the lead, then Yale would match. The teams became knotted at 31, 34 and 36 before the Cowboys went on another spree.
Waters, who had fans waiting in long lines before the game to receive a replica T-shirt of his No. 21 jersey, drained a 3-pointer and a layup to trigger a 7-0 run that gave Oklahoma State a 43-36 lead with 11:20 to go.
Once again, Yale dug into the deficit and forged the half’s fifth tie as Swain’s 3-pointer made it 45-45 with 8:25 left.
Bruner’s dunk with 3:25 to go pulled Yale within 54-52, but Waters answered with two 3-pointers and another jumper to give Oklahoma State a 62-54 lead with 29 seconds left.
—Field Level Media