Terry Maston has never started any of his 99 games in four seasons, but when Baylor has needed a big moment he’s often been the go-to guy.
Maston collected 24 points and scored most of the Bears’ critical baskets down the stretch as they hung on for a 59-57 win to snap No. 7 Texas Tech’s seven-game winning streak before a season-high crowd of 10,627 that left the Ferrell Center exhausted Saturday night.
The streaking Bears (17-10, 7-7) delivered their best resume building win of the season as they won their fifth straight game. This team that was last in the Big 12 just 15 days ago is now alone in fifth after they knocked off the Red Raiders (22-5) who are now tied for the league lead with Kansas at 10-4 with four games remaining.
The Bears could finally exhale when Brandone Francis missed a 3-pointer at the buzzer. Baylor avenged a 77-53 loss to the Red Raiders in the Dec. 29 Big 12 opener in Lubbock.
“We beat a great team, a very difficult team to play because of their athleticism and defensive scheme, they do a great job of making things tough on you,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew. “You had two teams that were going seven in a row, four in a row. That’s really hard to do. I think both of us, a lot of it’s credited to our bench because it takes depth and different people to step up.”
Coming off a career-high 26-point performance in Monday’s 74-73 double overtime win over Texas, Maston was just as clutch against the Red Raiders as he hit 10 of 19 field goals and four of seven free throws.
Though the Bears shot just 25 percent in the second half, Maston’s scoring surge and some critical defensive plays were enough to pull them through. Maston’s big game was sweet after he failed to score in 21 minutes in the first game against the Red Raiders when he returned after a six-game absence due to a hand injury.
“I had a really good first half and then I got cold in the second half, but my teammates still trusted me to give me the ball,” Maston said. “They called a couple of plays for me and I ended up executing down the stretch. I’ve been playing pretty good basketball lately.”
Maston scored 11 straight points for the Bears to take a 58-57 lead with 1:27 remaining. Trailing 57-53 after Francis nailed a 3-pointer with 2:58 remaining, Maston grabbed his own missed shot, drew a foul from Hamilton, and nailed the free throw to cut the Red Raiders’ lead to 57-56 with 2:38 remaining.
After Francis missed another shot for the Red Raiders, Maston hit a turnaround hook shot at the baseline to push the Bears to a 58-57 lead with 1:27 remaining.
“I thought Maston was the best player on the floor,” said Texas Tech coach Chris Beard. “He’s had back to back all-conference types of games. You put him in the mix with their other players and no one wants to play Baylor in the last month of the season.”
But even after Maston gave the Bears the lead, they needed a pair of blocked shots by freshman Mark Vital to help seal the win.
After his first block against Francis, Jake Lindsey rebounded and ball and drew a foul, but he missed both free throws. Vital came through again when he blocked Hamilton’s 3-pointer with 26 seconds remaining.
The Bears got possession but King McClure’s pass was intercepted by Josh Webster. Texas Tech couldn’t take advantage of its break as Jarrett Culver missed a 3-pointer. Jo Lual-Acuil rebounded the ball for Baylor and drew a foul.
After hitting the first free throw, Lual-Acuil missed the second. Francis couldn’t hit the last-second 3-pointer as he was heavily guarded by Lindsey.
“Jake had the flu and didn’t practice all week,” Drew said. “And really was gutting to play today. I think he had an IV after shoot-around. I thought the guards up top really did a great job and then the front line cleaning up the stuff the last three minutes. That’s why the crowd’s so important. When you’re tired, they push you through the finish line.”
After the Bears took a 35-31 lead into halftime, the Red Raiders opened the second half with a 9-2 run to grab their first lead of the game at 40-38 with 15:32 remaining. The Red Raiders played the second half without leading scorer Keenan Evans who limped off in the closing minutes of the first half with a foot injury.
Culver scored the Red Raiders’ first basket of the half and then stepped outside and drained a 3-pointer. Justin Gray then nailed an outside shot before Hamilton drove for a basket and scored.
From that point, the Bears and Red Raiders traded baskets throughout the second half before Baylor pulled it out at the end.
“Our confidence is really high especially on both offense and defense,” Maston said. “We’ve been working hard and it’s been paying off. Something about us anybody can have a great night any game and I think that’s what makes us a dangerous team.”