CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — With leading scorer Phil Forte nursing a sore elbow at halftime, Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford needed someone to step up. Jeffrey Carroll answered the call for the Cowboys.
Chris Olivier had a career-high 18 points and Carroll scored all 17 of his points in the second half to lead Oklahoma State to a 69-52 victory over Towson at the Charleston Classic on Thursday.
Forte had come into the tournament scoring 17 points a game for the Cowboys. But he landed hard on the court in the first half and spent the rest of the game on the bench. That didn’t slow down the Cowboys, though, who opened 3-0 for a seventh straight season.
“We’re battling some crazy injuries and illnesses,” Oklahoma State coach Travis Ford said. “But we don’t talk about those things. It’s just kind of the next guy up.”
Against Towson (1-2), that was Olivier, Carroll and 7-foot center Anthony Allen.
Olivier scored 10 straight points in the opening half as the Cowboys closed the period with a 21-9 run after Towson moved in front 12-11. Carroll, a redshirt sophomore, hit seven of nine shots, including three from behind the arc.
Allen played 11 minutes in the opening half, collecting four rebounds and three blocks to keep Towson off balance.
“I’m proud of this as a team effort,” Ford said. “We have no superstars, that’s not what we’re made of. Everybody just trying to go out and do their part.”
The Cowboys will play George Mason on Friday for a spot in Sunday’s championship game. The Patriots upended Mississippi in the eight-team tournament’s opening game.
Arnaud William Adala Moto had 14 points to lead Towson.
Oklahoma State starter Jeff Newberry had nine points and left the game with six minutes to go after hitting the court hard when he was fouled. Newberry, a 6-foot-2 senior, had his right arm tested by trainers on the bench before sitting next to Oklahoma State’s coaches. He appeared to be all right.
Towson survived the Cowboys’ quick 10-2 start and took a 12-11 lead on Adala Moto’s basket with 9:10 left in the opening half. But Joe Burton answered back with a basket as Oklahoma State began a 21-9 run the rest of the period.
Forte had 5 points in the run before Burton ended the half with a 3-point play.
Towson made just two of its final 13 shots in the period to fall behind.
“I think their depth was the difference in the game,” Tigers coach Pat Skerry said. “They’re tough, tough to hold down.”
Travis Ford said guard Phil Forte’s status in the air going forward at the Charleston Classic. Backcourt partner Jeff Newberry, who came down hard on his right arm with about six minutes left, appears to be all right and should be in the lineup for Friday.
Towson gets another Power Five conference opponent in Ole Miss of the Southeastern Conference on Friday to avoid the seventh-place game here Sunday. “For us, we came here to get wins and to get better,” Tigers coach Pat Skerry said. “It’s another opportunity against a Power Five team that’s tough and that will be ready.”
Oklahoma State: The Cowboys have spread the ball around early this season with nine players averaging at least five points a game. Oklahoma State saw five players reach double figures last time out, an 86-72 win over Arkansas Pine Bluff.
Towson: The Tigers came into this 1-7 all-time against teams from the Big 12 Conference. Their last contest against a Big 12 team was a loss to Kansas in 2013.
Oklahoma State will play George Mason in a winner’s bracket game here Friday.
Towson will play Mississippi in loser’s bracket game here Friday.
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