Cowboys' free throw shooting helps upset Red Raiders

OSU MBB vs. No. 24 Texas Tech 021520-6719.jpg

OSU forward Jonathan Laurent looks to pass during the Oklahoma State vs. No. 24 Texas Tech men's basketball game on Saturday, February 15, 2020 at Gallagher-Iba Arena in Stillwater.

Jonathan Laurent took in the atmosphere of Gallagher-Iba Arena as he walked to the half-court line. 

He took deep breaths with his hands on his hips as fans got out of their seats. All eyes were on Laurent as he turned around at half court and walked back to the free-throw line. 

A back and forth game had finally turned in the Oklahoma State men’s basketball team’s favor and the graduate transfer had two fouls shots as the Cowboys led by one.

Laurent kept repeating his routine in head the whole way as each shot flicked off his wrist and into the basket to extend OSU’s lead.

The Cowboys’ free-throw shooting changed the tide of the game as they went on to defeat Texas Tech 73-70 on Saturday.

Head coach Mike Boynton said his team shoots free throws every single practice.

“We don’t have anyone who’s just a bad free-throw shooter,” Boynton said. 

The Cowboys’ physicality brought them to the foul line numerous times. In previous games, OSU relied on its 3-point shooters and the score didn’t end in its favor. 

However, in the last six games, the Cowboys decided to push the ball inside the paint more. OSU uses its physicality to knock down shots or get to the foul line. 

Laurent and Kalib Boone, two players who have made an effort on the inside game, got to the line the most. Both were nearly perfect from the stripe.

Boone went to the line seven times and scored 12 of his 16 points on foul shots.

After the game, Boone gave a shoutout to assistant coach Cannen Cunningham because Cunningham helped him with his foul shots.

Boone said he played a shooting game after every practice with the first-year assistant coach to work on his foul shots.

“Coach Cunningham and Coach Boynton always told me when I get to the free-throw line ‘Be confident, do the same routine and make sure I have balance.’ That’s what coach Cunningham really helped me with.”

OSU finished the game with 31 points from the foul line.

While the Cowboys were thriving from the foul line, the Red Raiders struggled, especially at the end of the game. 

OSU was winning by two with seven seconds left when Laurent got called for a foul on Chris Clarke. Two shots could tie up the ballgame.

One after the other, Clarke watched as both foul shots hit the rim, denying TTU the opportunity to tie the game. 

Then with two seconds left, Kyler Edwards was at the foul line with the Cowboys leading by three. He made the first shot but got called for a lane violation on the second. OSU’s victory was sealed.

The Red Raiders made only 12 of their 20 foul shots with four of their misses coming in the last four minutes of the game.

Coach Chris Beard said the Cowboys were the better team on Saturday. 

“They got to the free-throw line twice as us so credit to them,” Beard said. 

The Cowboys have won three of their last four games and have a date with West Virginia on Tuesday. 

If OSU has the same physicality and ability to knock down foul shots, it will have a better chance to win than its last game against the Mountaineers.

“Free throws are always a kinda tricky deal,” Boynton said. “If we got 19-for-38, the question is do you guys ever shoot free throws. At the end of the day, it’s a focus thing.”

sports.ed@ocolly.com