By Adam Gibson | Sports Writer
Baylor men’s basketball handed Prairie View A&M its first loss of the season after the Bears (2-1) pulled away late to secure a 91-80 victory Monday night at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor head coach Scott Drew said the young team had some good possessions, but there were still moments that the team could not be consistent in its performance.
“I think we play in spurts,” Drew said. “We can be really, really good, and we can be really, really bad. And that’s what you get with inexperience … But, we’re going to get better each and every day. We just want to get better with wins and that’s the most important thing.”
Junior guard Devonte Bandoo got the scoring started just 16 seconds into the game for Baylor with a 3-point attempt. Prairie View A&M responded with a three from junior guard Darius Williams. Senior guard King McClure got himself on the scoring sheet scoring on his first attempt from behind the arc to which Williams responded again with yet another three-point shot.
Through almost four minutes of play, Baylor had a double-digit lead of 14-7 while shooting 80 percent from the field, making four of its five shots and 75 percent from beyond the three-point line making, three of its four attempts.
The Panthers found themselves in a scoring drought midway through the first half after only making one of their 12 field goal attempts, three of which were blocked, one by freshman forward Matthew Mayer and two by sophomore forward Tristan Clark. Clark said those blocks are beneficial to the team because not only does it keep the opponent from scoring, but it raises the energy in the arena.
“When I block a shot, the crowd goes wild and it ignites my team,” Clark said. “I feel like when I get going on defense and block shots it creates easy buckets in transition.”
The Panther defense then switched the tables on the Baylor offense, closing in on the lead with an 8-0 run.
The Bears took an 11-point lead into half behind Bandoo and freshman guard Jared Butler who had 10 and 11 points, respectively. While they struggled from the line only making 12-of-18 free throws, the Bears were 53.8 percent from the field and behind the arc. Butler also led in rebounds with four.
Prairie View A&M headed into the locker room making 11-of-29 field goals for a shooting percentage of 37.9 led by senior forward Iwin Ellis with nine points. The teams had the same number of personal fouls with 13. Baylor held the lead for the entire first half.
Coming back for the second half through just under five minutes in, the Panthers cut the Baylor lead from 11 to six with two threes. Just after halfway through the second half, Prairie View A&M had cut into the lead even more, making it a two-point game at 59-57. The Bears committed seven turnovers through 11 minutes, already more than they had in the entire first half. The Panthers only had three to give them 10 total on the day.
Baylor started to pull away again after going on a 15-2 run, making all seven of its shot attempts over the span of 3:38, capitalized by a block from Clark, who ran the floor and slammed home a dunk off an assist from McClure for a 78-61 lead. Butler helped the team to increase its lead and said he wasn’t focused on doing everything himself, but instead was just doing everything he could to help the Bears succeed.
“I wanted to win. I’m going to do whatever I think is best for our team to win. If I see a lane or if I see an opening, I just let my instincts take over,” Butler said. “I try to knock the shots down.”
The Panthers never found a way to take over the lead with the final score 91-80. Baylor had four players in double digit scoring and Butler leading the team with 22 points. McClure lead the team in rebounds with eight. Senior guard Gary Blackston led the Panthers with 18 points as the team shot 45.9 percent from the field but were able to hit 50 percent from the arc.
Clark finished the day with 17 total points, five blocks, seven rebounds and 4 assists through 27 minutes. After that type of game, Drew said that is something he expects to see from Clark every time he steps onto the court because he shows how good he can be in practice.
“We want that every day because we see flashes of that and the big thing is keeping out of foul trouble and then being aggressive like that,” Drew said.
The Bears hit the hardwood again at 11 a.m. Friday in the Ferrell Center as they take on (1-2) Nicholls State.