The Baylor Bears hot start to the 2016 season continued in a 71-63 victory over mid-major power VCU behind a big 2nd half from Jonathan Motley and a clutch last minute from junior guard Manu Lecomte. VCU (3-1) led 36-28 at halftime behind a 12-2 closing run to end the second half.
Behind a 6-0 start that saw the Bears get an easy layup off of the opening tip and then forced 3 quick VCU turnovers, the Bears were in control for most of the first half. The Rams would hang around though with senior JeQuan Lewis scoring 8 straight points to tie the game at 8. Lewis, one of 6 seniors for VCU,scored a game high 21 points hitting 5-10 3-pointers.
Baylor and VCU would go back and forth for most of the first half, but with the scored tied at 24-24 with 5:39 to go, Baylor's offense would go cold making just 1 field goal for the rest of the half, while the VCU defense ratcheted up the pressure forcing several Baylor turnovers.
With Baylor going cold, VCU would turn to senior post Ahmed Hamdy, scoring 9 points in the first half, primarily over Jo Acuil.
The 36-28 lead for VCU would be the largest of the game, but the Bears would respond at halftime. With Coach Drew using junior post Jonathan Motley more in the pick and roll game, and less down low, the Bears would find the preseason All-Big 12 player constantly in the second half, scoring 14 points after the break. With Motley doing damage down low, the Bears were able to get enough from Al Freeman and Jake Lindsey in the second half to get back in the game.
Baylor would tie the game at 44-44 with 10:59 left in the second half on two Jonathan Motley free throws. They would take the lead on a TJ Maston jumper to put them up 51-49, and a few minutes later get the lead for good on two more Motley free throws with under 7-minutes to go, part of a 9-2 run that would give the Bears command of the game.
Leading 58-53 with 4 minutes to go, a crucial Manu Lecomte turnover gave the Rams the ball and a chance to get the lead down to 1-possession. Even with Lecomte struggling mightily for the first 36 minutes of play, badly missing many jumpers and making just 2-11 shots before that 4-minute timeout, Lecomte would be the Bears star when it counted.
Lecomte would score the last 11 points of the game for Baylor, including a perfect 9-9 from the free throw line. The play of the game came courtesy of Lecomte as well, with just under 1-minute to go and a 4-point lead, Lecomte broke the VCU trap and attacked the basket. With Ahmed Hamdy challenging the shot, Lecomte bounced off the contact and made a very difficult layup through the foul. The ensuing free throw gave Baylor a 7-point lead, their largest of the game and gave the Bears the cushion they needed.
Jonathan Motley led the Bears with 19 points and 10 rebounds, his 6th career double-double. Manu Lecomte chipping in 16 points, with Al Freeman scoring 15.
With the win, the Baylor Bears await the winner of Michigan State and St. Johns, who they will face Thanksgiving Day at 11am CST.