By Ben Everett | Sports Editor
No. 9-seeded Baylor men’s basketball fell to No. 1 seed Gonzaga 83-71 on Saturday night in Salt Lake City in the second round of the NCAA Tournament.
The Bears (20-14) could not contain Gonzaga junior forward Brandon Clarke, who finished the day with 36 points, eight rebounds and five blocks against a depleted Baylor front court.
Senior guards King McClure and Makai Mason each played their final game in a Baylor uniform. McClure finished with 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting while Mason notched a team-high 17 points.
With only two big men available (junior forward Freddie Gillespie and freshman center Flo Thamba), the Bears started sophomore forward Mark Vital at center and Clarke made them pay.
Two days after scorching Syracuse for 16 3-pointers, the Bears only managed four makes from deep in the loss to the Bulldogs.
After Baylor took a 7-5 lead early in the game, Gonzaga finished the first half on a 34-16 run to take a 16-point lead into the break.
Vital battled foul trouble all night, but sparked an early second half run to get the Bears back in the game. Baylor went on a 10-0 run to start the half. An and-one basket by Vital cut the lead to 43-38 with 16 minutes left in the game.
Gonzaga rebuilt their lead thanks to inside scoring by Clarke, and the Bulldogs never looked back, ending Baylor’s season with an 83-71 victory.
The Bears will graduate Mason and McClure, but the rest of the team is expected to be back for the 2019-20 season.