Heart. That is the reason the Baylor Bears won the opening game of the NIT Season Tip-Off in double overtime according to junior guard Aaron Bruce.
The Baylor Bears rallied from 5 points down with less than 2 minutes to play in regulation to force overtime. Sophomore Henry Dugat led the way for the Bears hitting what seemed like every shot he took from the field down the stretch. Dugat's hot hand allowed him to be the game-high scorer with 29 points.
The Bears got off to a quick start and actually led 23-7 in the early part of the game. The Rams, led mostly by Jason Smith, clawed their way back into the game, and only trailed by one point at the half.
With Aaron Bruce challenging his teammates to "Accept the Challenge", and with 3 Baylor players fouled out of the game, a couple of unlikely Baylor players performed admirably. Senior forward Tim Bush bodied up against the Rams' 7-foot star, and late in double overtime was able to draw a charge to help seal the victory. Perhaps the bigger story was the play of former walk-on junior forward Mark Shepherd who, not known for his shooting ability, drained two big free throws late in overtime to give Baylor the chance to pull off the win.
On the night, Baylor turned the ball over 16 times, and only recorded 9 assists. The Bears shot 43% from the field, 21% from beyond the arc. However, perhaps the most important statline was that the Baylor Bears shot 80% from the free throw line on 28 for 35 from the charity stripe.
The Baylor Bears will next face the winner of Gonzaga/Rice on Wednesday at 9:30 P.M. on ESPN2.