Baylor lastly confronted a take a look at. The sixth-ranked Bears responded by cleansing up turnovers, hitting the glass and staying a step or two forward of VCU.

Matthew Mayer scored 15 factors to assist the Bears maintain off the Rams 69-61 in Thursday’s semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, sending Baylor into Friday’s championship sport. It marked the reigning nationwide champions’ first sport determined by fewer than a dozen factors within the younger season, and this one had them battling till the final seconds to guard their margin.

“It was huge for us,” Mayer mentioned. (*6*)

Freshman Kendall Brown added 14 factors for the Bears (6-0), who dedicated simply 5 second-half turnovers after 13 within the first half in opposition to VCU’s full-court and trapping stress. That first-half complete surpassed Baylor’s full-game totals in 4 video games earlier this season.

“It just shows us how connected we are (against) a team like that that can get in your head and press and cause turnovers,” Brown mentioned. “It just shows our poise throughout the game: Just stay level-headed and keep going at it.”

Baylor additionally managed the glass (42-33) and pulled down 17 offensive boards to complete with a 15-3 edge in second-chance factors.

Vince Williams scored 17 factors to steer VCU (3-3), whereas Stockard had 13 factors. The Rams shot 48% after halftime to hold round, regularly inside two possessions, however they could not fairly overtake Baylor.

“I thought at times we put Baylor on their heels and we got our style of play going,” VCU coach Mike Rhoades mentioned.

“I just thought at times we sort of shot ourselves in the foot. Before you can beat a team like Baylor, you can’t beat yourself. I think at times we did that with careless turnovers, some blown assignments coming out of timeouts or dead balls.”

BIG PICTURE

Baylor: The Bears are again on the event for the primary time since profitable it in 2016. They opened with a 75-63 win in opposition to Arizona State for his or her second win in every week in opposition to Pac-12 opponents. They have been examined Thursday, needing free throws from James Akinjo with 14.3 seconds left to maintain this one of their grip. It marked Baylor’s twelfth straight win relationship to final yr’s title run within the Indianapolis bubble.

VCU: The Rams took down a power-conference opponent within the first spherical, holding Syracuse to 29% taking pictures and forcing 16 turnovers within the 67-55 win. VCU managed to create complications for Baylor, too, significantly within the first half. But the Rams could not fairly catch the Bears, getting the second-half margin to 4 factors thrice and three factors as soon as (45-42 close to the 11-minute mark) however no nearer in a sample that held all the best way into the final minute.

“We couldn’t get over the hump, but we just kept fighting to the end of the game,” Williams mentioned.

KEY SEQUENCE

Baylor led 29-27 and got here out of the break with 9 straight factors. That included a five-point possession with Brown making two free throws after being hit on a flagrant foul by Levi Stockard III, then Mayer discovering Flo Thamba with a lane-to-lane go for a rating and a three-point play.

Baylor protected that margin, although the Bears struggled to place the sport away because the Rams continued to make use of full-court protection to maintain Baylor out of rhythm.

“That was a killer,” Rhoades mentioned. “We talked about it in the locker room, that they’re known for that this year but in the past, (coming) out of the locker room making a run. And they sure made one.”

UP NEXT

Baylor: Plays Michigan State in Friday’s title sport.

VCU: Faces No. 22 UConn in Friday’s third-place sport.