LUBBOCK — Baylor had created a history of strong finishes, but Texas Tech took over that role Monday night and beat the nation’s No. 4 team.
The Bears let a nine-point second-half lead slip away as the Red Raiders boosted their NCAA tournament resume with an 84-78 win at United Supermarkets Arena.
The Bears (22-4, 9-4) hoped to go into Saturday’s game against No. 3 Kansas at the Ferrell Center with a lot of momentum, but the Red Raiders (17-9, 5-8) made all the big plays down the stretch. Baylor remained behind the Big 12-leading Jayhawks, who played West Virginia late Monday.
Texas Tech fans stormed the court after the Red Raiders’ big come from behind win. It was a rare poor defensive effort by the Bears, who led the Big 12 in both scoring defense and field goal percentage defense coming into the game.
“We didn’t have a very good defensive effort by anybody in the second half,” said Baylor coach Scott Drew in his postgame radio interview. “We just didn’t guard well. They shot 61 percent from the field and shot 35 free throws in the second half. We’ve got to do a better job adjusting to the officiating.”
Keenan Evans led the Red Raiders with 23 points while Niem Stevenson scored 21 and Justin Gray collected 13 points and 10 rebounds. The Red Raiders shot 51.1 percent for the night and hit 30 of 43 free throws compared to 17 of 25 free throws for the Bears.
The Bears got a big game off the bench from Terry Maston who hit seven of 11 field goals and all eight free throws for a career-high 22 points. But season leading scorer Johnathan Motley scored just 11 points, all in the second half.
“They were doubling Mot really bad, so it opened up things for me,” Maston said. “My guards were getting the ball to me. I was definitely looking for the ball because I was feeling it. I just wish we could have had a better effort on the defensive end and the outcome would have been different.”
With the Bears holding a 59-56 lead, the key moment for the Bears came with 8:28 remaining when point guard Manu Lecomte got his fourth foul and then was nailed with his fifth foul when he was called for a technical. Lecomte had scored 16 points while nailing three 3-pointers.
“That was definitely a big turning point because he’s our floor general and he leads us on the court,” Maston said. “It wasn’t the end of the world, but we tried to overcome it and we came up short today.”
Aaron Ross nailed a pair of free throws to pull the Red Raiders within one, but Maston answered with a basket for the Bears.
The Red Raiders went on a 14-2 run to open up a 72-63 lead, and the Bears couldn’t recover.
Texas Tech caught a break when Devin Thomas was originally called for charging against Baylor’s Jake Lindsey on a drive to the basket. But the officials reversed the call and awarded Thomas with a basket and Lindsey with a foul. Thomas’ free throw completed the three-point play as the Red Raiders tied the game at 61-61 with 7:04 remaining.
Evans followed with a free throw to give the Red Raiders the lead before Ross drained a 3-pointer and Gray drove for a basket. Ross followed with another drive for a basket.
After Motley scored for the Bears, Stevenson hit a free throw and then drove for a layup to push Texas Tech’s lead to 72-63.
“We made some mental mistakes that we normally don’t make,” Drew said. “Some of it might be the short turnaround because you’re fatigued and you’ve got to be stronger. When you’re not hitting the 3-ball and they’re doubling inside, it makes it tough. You get down nine or 10 points late, it’s tough to come back on the road. We’ll get some rest and hopefully we’ll have a better performance against Kansas.”
BEAR FACTS – Baylor guard Manu Lecomte was named Big 12 newcomer of the week for the third time, tying the school record. Lecomte averaged 16 points and three assists in Baylor’s wins over Oklahoma State and TCU last week.