Baylor Bear Insider
PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas – Facing a stifling VCU defense that forced 18 turnovers and kept Baylor at season lows in points and shooting percentage, the sixth-ranked Bears overcame a prolonged first-half drought to defeat the Rams, 69-61, Thursday night in qualifying for the championship game. from Battle 4 Atlantis.
First-year student Kendall Brown was a perfect 6 of 6 from the floor and scored all his 14 points in the second half as he helped Baylor (6-0) win their 30and– a non-conference back-to-back game and extends its best national winning streak to 12 straight, including eight games at neutral venues.
“We knew it was going to be a really good NCAA tournament style game,” the Baylor coach said. Scott Drewwhose team has improved to 25-4 in regular season tournament play since 2013. a great job.”
The Bears won the battle of the boards, 42-33, limiting VCU (3-3) to just three points on 12 offensive rebounds, finished with a 20-14 point advantage on turnovers and also edged the Rams, 18-7, on the free throw line.
“It was our first real test in terms of a tight game at the end,” said Matthew Mayer, who was 3 of 5 from 3-point range, scoring a team-high 15 points to go with six rebounds, two steals and a block. “I think we’re a really good team and have a lot of tenacity. I’m just glad we were able to take that out so we can figure it out on ourselves.”
Baylor took a double-digit lead in the first half, going up 17-6 on a L.J. Cryer floater with 1:15 to go in halftime. But, the Bears scored just 12 points over the next 13 minutes and were outscored 13-4 in the streak, clinging to a two-point halftime lead, 29-27.
“When you play multiple games in multiple days, it’s hard on your legs,” Drew said. “Playing against a team that traps and pressures and does what they do, it’s just constant pressure. Fatigue makes us all loose. A deep bench is so essential to our success. And being able to keep guys fresh and turning them in and was important.”
Tying his career high with 13 points off the bench, Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua scored 11 points in the first half, knocking down 5 of 6 shots. He hit his first career 3-pointer and also hit another long-range jumper with his foot on the line.
“Jon worked really hard on his outside shot,” Drew said of the 6-8 senior striker. “They were both behind the clock, catching and shooting. Those are the ones we want him to take. He was really effective, 6-for-8, eight rebounds, he really helped us, especially in the first half. time when we needed that energy.”
After missing all three of his shots in the first half, Brown took over, scoring the Bears’ first six points of the second half with a dunk, drive-in layup and two free throws. Adam Flaglerwho scored his nine points in the second half, capped a 9-0 run with a three-point play that cut the lead back to double digits, 38-27.
“My teammates just spoke to me and told me to play my game and play with a lot of energy, and that’s what I did,” said Brown, who was 6 of 9 overall, adding five rebounds and a steal. “I carried on and we stayed together. That’s what happens when we play together, we look great.”
VCU fought back in threes, 45-42, on a 3-pointer from Marcus Tsohonis and kept it in single digits the rest of the way. The Rams made one final push, going under 65-61 on a pair of free throws and a layup on a steal with 15.3 seconds left.
Corn, James Akinjo and Flagler knocked down four straight free throws to clinch the Bears victory.
Vince Williams scored a game-high 17 points and added five assists for the Rams (3-3), while Levi Stockard III had 13 points and six rebounds. VCU will conclude the tournament with a match for third place against UConn.
Baylor advances to Friday’s championship game at 10 a.m. CST against Michigan State (5-1), which upset 22n/a-ranked UConn, 64-60, in the other semifinal.
“We’ve traditionally been two of the best rebounding teams in the country,” Drew said of Baylor and Michigan State. “It will be a grown man’s game.”
The Bears are 5-0 all-time in the Battle 4 Atlantis, capturing the 2016 title with wins over VCU, Michigan State and Louisville. Baylor also won the 2017 Hall of Fame Classic and the 2019 Myrtle Beach Invitational.