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STILLWATER, Okla. (AP) — On a day in which his Native American heritage was celebrated throughout the game, Lindy Waters scored 19 points — eight in the final three minutes — to help lead Oklahoma State to a 64-57 victory over Yale on Sunday.
Waters, a Kiowa/Cherokee Tribe member, also had five rebounds. Yor Anei added 12 points (all in the second half), seven rebounds and two blocks for Oklahoma State (4-0). Isaac Likekele contributed 11 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals.
“I don’t necessarily believe in coincidences, so it was very fitting that he was the guy, even on a night when he wasn’t his best,” Cowboys coach Mike Boynton said of Waters’ clutch performance late. “When we really needed it, he was able to put us over the top.”
Oklahoma State struggled at times offensively, shooting 36.7 percent (22 of 60) until the final four minutes of the game, including 2 for 17 (11.8 percent) from 3-point range, while clinging to a 51-50 advantage.
“I am proud of our team for finding a way to win against a good team on a night when we obviously did not shoot the basketball well, and pretty much got dominated inside, to be frank,” Boynton said. “We have to address that, but there are no bad wins.”
Paul Atkinson scored 16 points and had a game-high 10 rebounds for Yale (2-2), last year’s Ivy League champion.
“He’s been absolutely terrific,” Yale coach James Jones said of Atkinson, who entered the game averaging 20 points. “Obviously, you keep wanting more out of a kid, but he’s done yeoman’s work, he’s developed right before our eyes and he’s been a force for us at the basket. He’s the guy we’re trying to get the ball to when we need a basket.”
Yale pulled even at 48 on Eric Monroe’s 3-pointer with 6:54 remaining, then got back to within 54-52 on Jordan Bruner’s dunk with 3:25 left, but the Bulldogs missed three consecutive free throws and Waters sank two 3s over the next two-plus minutes to push Oklahoma State to a 60-54 advantage with 1:23 left.
“We got a tie and on the next possession, we didn’t make a good decision and it turned into a three-point play by the other team, so that kind of hurt us tonight,” Jones said. “And we missed some free throws down the stretch, so it’s hard to win when you’re doing those kinds of things.”
The campus-site game is part of the NIT Season Tip-Off tournament.
Yale: After playing in two overtime games in their first three outings, going 1-1, the Bulldogs are clearly comfortable playing in close contests. After falling behind 23-10 with 6:31 left in the first half, Yale battled back with an 11-2 run and wound up trailing just 27-23 at halftime. For most of the second half, the teams were within five points of each other, up until the final moments, although this time, the Bulldogs were unable to force OT.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys endured some difficulties shooting, in all facets of the game. Their overall shooting percentage of 40 (26 of 65) was their second-lowest of the season, as was their 3-point percentage of 21.1 (4 of 19), while their free-throw percentage of 53.3 (8 of 15) and their 64 points were season lows. After shooting 34 free throws in their season-opening 80-75 win over Oral Roberts, Oklahoma State has taken only 40 combined in the three games since.
OFF THE COURT
The game was Oklahoma State’s annual N7 celebration, in which the program pays tribute to the Native American heritage of Oklahoma. The pregame color guard was provided by the Kiowa Black Legging Warrior Society, and there was also a halftime performance by the Fancy Dancers. Oklahoma State also wore special turquoise uniforms, representing peace and harmony in Native cultures. Then, after the game, Waters and his family held an Honoring & Giveaway ceremony, where they presented special awards to various members of the OSU community that have helped Waters on his journey, including a special “Circle of Life” blanket to Boynton. “It meant a lot to me and my family,” Waters said. “Being here for four years at a university that helps me preview my culture in certain ways, and a university that’s shown me a lot of love and compassion and given me every resource to be successful.”
Oklahoma State forced Yale into 22 turnovers, 14 in the first half, but the Cowboys scored just 19 total points off them. … Yale held the edge in rebounds 42-38, including a 23-16 advantage in the first half. … Yale’s bench outscored Oklahoma State’s 18-11.
Yale: The Bulldogs return home to Connecticut to host Siena on Wednesday.
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys remain home to take on Western Michigan on Friday night.
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