SAN JUAN, PUERTO RICO: The University of Akron missed a chance to beat Oklahoma State in regulation, then built a lead in overtime but ultimately fell 69-65 Thursday in the quarterfinals of the 2012 Puerto Rico Tip-Off.
Center Zeke Marshall opened the overtime session with the first four points, but he fouled out with 2:45 remaining.
The Zips then missed open shots on their next two possessions. Phil Forte hit a 3-pointer for Oklahoma State and followed that with three free throws to give the Cowboys a two-point lead at 67-65.
Alex Abreu, still recovering from a sprained ankle, missed a layup with 22 seconds left, and the Cowboys (2-0) finished off the victory with two more free throws.
Brian Walsh led UA (1-2) with 14 points and 10 rebounds, his first career double-double. Marshall added a double-double, too, with 12 points and 10 rebounds. It was the first time since March 13, 2010, that two UA players recorded double-doubles in the same game.
Abreu, a Puerto Rican native, had six assists and 13 points.
“Alex is like a son to me,” Zips coach Keith Dambrot said. “He is a really, really good player. You didn’t see it tonight because he is not where he will be physically. People have no idea how good Alex is; he is one of the best players, under six feet tall, in the country.”
Abreu was disappointed with the outcome.
“I wish I could have physically been 100 percent today,” he said. “I played at less than that [recovering from injury]. It’s great to be home to play in front of my people but I am disappointed we didn’t win. We should have.”
The Zips shot poorly, hitting 30 percent from the floor (12-of-70) and 30.8 percent from 3-point range (8-of-26). They outrebounded Oklahoma State 45-43 and committed three fewer turnovers (13 to 16).
The Zips fell behind 53-43 with 9:40 remaining. They managed to chip away at the lead despite going more than 11 minutes without a field goal.
The defense held the Cowboys without a field goal for the final 2:40 of regulation, as the Zips scored the final five points before overtime. With a chance to get the victory, Marshall missed an outside shot after an in-bounds play at the buzzer.
“When we talked to Dan Shoemaker [from ESPN] about getting into this tournament, we knew we would have a good team,” Dambrot said. “We didn’t visualize having the team we had out there today — three of our top six guys were out. Do I think it would have been an upset if we had won? I really don’t.
“We had as good a group of guys as they did. We had opportunities to win but we couldn’t make it happen. We played good enough to win but it didn’t work out.”
The Zips played without ineligible players Demetrius Treadwell and Nick Harney, and Quincy Diggs, who is suspended for the academic year.
The Zips will play UNC Asheville at 1 p.m. today.