Strong defense helps Bears beat Iowa State

Story by Bailey Brammer | Editor-in-Chief, Video by Elisabeth Tharp | Broadcast Reporter

The Baylor men’s basketball team ended its four-game losing streak Saturday in the Ferrell Center with an 81-67 win over Iowa State.

The Bears (13-10, 3-7) went back and forth with the Cyclones (12-10, 3-7) in the first half and entered the second trailing 32-30 before breaking away with a 15-point run in just under two minutes, securing their first win since Jan. 15.

Senior forward Terry Maston led the Bears in scoring with 23 points, while senior forward Jo Lual-Acuil Jr. was the only Baylor player to record a double-double with 10 points and 14 rebounds. This was Lual-Acuil’s tenth double-double of the season.

The Bears’ 42 rebounds definitely had an effect on their win, 28 of those rebounds being on the defensive end. Although Iowa State dominated the Bears in three-pointers with nine to the Bears’ two, the Cyclones could not overcome Baylor’s 52 points in the paint.

“We needed a win, and it was a great defensive effort by our guys to hold Iowa State, one of the better teams offensively in the country, to 34 percent and 67 points,” said Baylor head coach Scott Drew. “In this league, you can play well and it’s not good enough.”

The Bears started out strong with an 8-4 lead, with four of their points coming from senior guard Manu Lecomte. The Cyclones were unable to pull ahead of Baylor until the 12:59 mark, where freshman guard Lindell Wigginton’s layup tied the score at 8-8.

Baylor took the lead again at the end of the first quarter with a quick turnover steal by senior guard Jake Lindsey and two points each from Maston and junior guard King McClure.

Iowa State struggled to catch up amid Baylor’s defense and multiple rebounds until the 6:02 mark, where a three-pointer from junior forward Zoran Talley Jr. tied the game again at 21-21.

The Bears answered by quickly taking back the lead with a jumpshot by redshirt freshman forward Mark Vital. The teams continued to trade off points until another three-pointer from Iowa State’s Talley and two free throws from Wigginton cemented the Cyclones 32-30 lead going into the half.

Baylor jumped into the second half with a dunk by Vital to tie the game back up at 32, before another Iowa State three-pointer, this time by senior guard Jackson Donovan, gave the Cyclones back their lead. The Bears eventually tied it back up at 38.

Lecomte and the Bears refused to accept this and responded with 15 points in just under two minutes without allowing the Cyclones to score. Those unanswered points brought the score to 51-38 at the 14:16 mark, with Lecomte scoring seven of the 15.

“We wanted to come out, and you want to get the crowd going and get some momentum,” Drew said. “We were able to get some separation, get the crowd into the game.”

Iowa State finally got the chance to add a few more points to the scoreboard, but not without corresponding free throws by Lual-Acuil and a tip-in by Maston. The Bears continued on the up-and-up with two more shots from Lual-Acuil and a three-pointer from senior forward Nuni Omot, boosting the score to 62-49.

The Bears’ defense relaxed a bit in the last few minutes of the game, allowing Iowa State to score a few more but without letting them close in on Baylor’s winning margin. Five free throws, three from Lindsey and two from Omot padded the Bears’ lead and finished out the game at 81-67.

“We knew coming into this game that we had to win,” Lual-Acuil said, “and I think the team did a great job of playing with energy, and we were all determined and didn’t want to leave here without a win.”

The Bears will travel to Stillwater, Okla. to take on Oklahoma State at 7 p.m. Tuesday.