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Kevin Schnepf, Published March 20 2014

Sooners had a chance to win it late in regulation against Bison

SPOKANE, Wash. – Oklahoma, a team that has made its share of shots this season, missed perhaps its three most important ones in a nine-second span Thursday night in the NCAA Division I men’s basketball tournament.

As a result, the No. 5-seeded Sooners suffered an 80-75 overtime loss to No. 12 seed North Dakota State in front of 10,500 fans at Spokane Arena.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win it at the end and it didn’t happen,” said Oklahoma’s Ryan Spangler. “It’s upsetting to miss those three shots, but we were still pumped up to go into overtime.”

There were a couple of reasons the tightly contested game went into overtime.

The first was Bison point guard Lawrence Alexander, whose 3-pointer with 11.2 seconds left in regulation tied the score 66-66.

The second was Oklahoma’s next possession – in which it had three shots to end the game. But Buddy Hield’s 3-pointer missed the mark. After a Sooners rebound, Jordan Woodard missed a jumper. After another Sooners rebound, Isaiah Cousins missed a contested reverse layup at the buzzer.

“We got exactly what we wanted,” said Oklahoma head coach Lon Kruger. “We had three good looks at it.”

Like the big upsets the NDSU program produced over Wisconsin and Marquette in 2006, the opponent missed plenty of shots.

Oklahoma, a 45-percent shooting team this season, shot 35 percent Thursday night. The Sooners’ leading scorer, Hield, was limited to nine points after he made only 4 of 14 field goals and only 1 of 9

3-pointers.

Oklahoma was held seven points below its season average of 82.

“I think that they (NDSU) did a good job just controlling the defensive end,” said Oklahoma’s Cameron Clark. “They played great defense. I feel like we sped up and sometimes just rushed shots. Credit them, they got the win.”

The Sooners also gave plenty of credit to Alexander, especially for draining the game-tying 3-pointer.

“We thought we had him contained,” Clark said. “He stepped up and made a big shot.”

The Sooners went on an 8-0 run late in regulation to take a 65-61 lead with 39 seconds left.

But with 32 seconds left, Cousins fouled Braun, who sank both free throws to make it 65-63. With 26 seconds left, Cousins made his first free throw, but missed his second – setting up Alexander’s shot. Was Oklahoma thinking about fouling the Bison during that possession?

“We would’ve fouled if it got later in the clock,” said Kruger. “We talked about if it got down to six or seven seconds remaining, then we would foul. I thought our guys did a good job of having a clear picture of everything that happened prior to the shot. I thought our guy got there and contested it pretty good and Alexander made a big shot.”

It was a shot that helped create what was considered the third upset of Thursday. Earlier in the day, Dayton knocked off Ohio State while Harvard upset Cincinnati on the same court NDSU won.

Television commentator Charles Barkley had this to say about those three games: “Dayton was better than Ohio State and Harvard was better than Cincinnati. Oklahoma’s loss to North Dakota State was the first true upset of the tournament.”


Readers can reach Forum Sports Editor

Kevin Schnepf at (701) 241-5549