No. 3 seed Baylor demolishes No. 14 seed Colgate 92-67 in offensive onslaught

Freshman guard Ja'Kobe Walter (4) had eight made free throws, which tied for fifth most in an NCAA Tournament game in program history. Camie Jobe | Photographer

By Foster Nicholas | Sports Writer

MEMPHIS, Tenn. — When graduate senior forward Jonathan Tchamwa Tchatchoua and senior forward Austin Sacks checked in during No. 3 seed Baylor men’s basketball’s 92-67 rout of No. 14 seed Colgate on Friday afternoon, the pair was in a unique position to conquer program history at FedEx Forum.

After Tchamwa Tchatchoua drilled his first career postseason 3-pointer with 1:16 to play, Sacks found his first with 22 seconds remaining. Sacks’ 3-pointer marked the 16th of the night, which tied a postseason program record and notched the 92nd point, which also marked the highest scoring output for the Bears (24-10) in an NCAA Tournament game in school history.

“Hopefully we saved a couple of made threes for the next game, because 16-for-30 is pretty efficient,” Bears head coach Scott Drew said. “We’ve had a top-five offense most of the year, and we know we’re efficient.”

Baylor opened the NCAA Tournament with its most 3-pointers since it poured in 19 against Mississippi Valley State on Dec. 22, 2023, and it was its most points in regulation since Feb. 13 at West Virginia (94).

Four of Baylor’s starters finished in double-figure scoring as senior forward Jalen Bridges led all players with 23 points on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor with five 3-point baskets. Bridges lit up the scoreboard in the second half, tallying 18 points as he hit his last four 3-pointers to close the game.

“It was great to see the ball go through the hoop a little bit, especially after how we struggled in Kansas City,” Bridges said. “This is a new season. Put the past in the past. Focus on the next game, the next opportunity, and stay together, and the rest will take care of itself.”

While Bridges erupted in the second half, freshman guard Ja’Kobe Walter led all players with 15 first-half points. Walter ravaged the Colgate (25-10) defense in the first 20 minutes and pushed Baylor to a 54-34 lead at the half, signifying the most points the Bears have ever scored in a half of an NCAA Tournament game.

Walter finished with 19 points on 4-of-11 shooting overall but found other ways to score as he went 8-for-10 from the free-throw line after drawing four shooting fouls. Walter’s point total marks his highest scoring output since he scored 23 points in an overtime game against Houston on Feb. 24 in Waco.

“Not everybody gets to play out here,” Walter said. “And me being a freshman, not a lot of freshmen get this opportunity as well. I really wanted to come out aggressive, set the tone early. My teammates, they were finding me. They were encouraging me. When we got things going, it was pretty hard to stop us.”

Senior guard RayJ Dennis flirted with a double-double after notching 10 points and nine assists. Junior guard Jayden Nunn was the only other Bear in double-figure scoring as he finished with 15 points on 5-for-8 shooting overall and went 4-for-5 from 3-point range.

After failing to score more than 27 points in the first half in the three games leading up to the NCAA Tournament, Baylor had surpassed that number just nine minutes into Friday’s game. The Bears knocked down nine of their first 12 shots and closed the half hitting six of their last eight to lead by 20 at the break.

Baylor is one of four teams to have won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five tournaments. Camie Jobe | Photographer
Baylor is one of four teams to have won at least one game in the NCAA Tournament in each of the last five tournaments. Camie Jobe | Photographer

“Clearly we had no way of stopping them [with] the way they shot the ball this afternoon,” Colgate head coach Matt Langel said. “I thought they were terrific, not just in making shots, but their spacing, their execution put us in a number of dilemmas. Tip your cap to Baylor for their efforts getting the lead that they did and then managing the game the rest of the way.”

Already without redshirt sophomore guard Langston Love (ankle), the Bears dropped a little more depth in the second half when freshman center Yves Missi played just five minutes in the second half. Missi sat on the bench with a heat pad on his shoulder and back, but during his absence, sophomore forward Josh Ojianwuna had eight points and was a perfect 4-for-4 from the field in addition to bringing down a team-high seven rebounds.

Bridges blew the door open in the second half as Baylor traded buckets with Colgate. Down the stretch, Drew and the Bears emphasized the win with alley-oop finishes by Dennis and Ojianwuna en route to demolishing the Raiders 92-67.

For the fifth straight year, Baylor will continue its March Madness run on Sunday against No. 6 seed Clemson (22-11) in the round of 32 at FedEx Forum. The Bears have seen three of their last four NCAA Tournament trips end in the second round and will look to find their way over the hump.