No. 20 Baylor found itself down by eight points at halftime in its opening-round game against VCU in the Battle 4 Atlantis on Wednesday afternoon. But the Bears clamped down on defense and used their length and athleticism in a 71-63 comeback win.
The Bears (4-0) were down 36-28 at the half but still advanced thanks to a balanced effort on both ends of the floor along with a big second half from junior forward Jonathan Motley. Getting comfortable in the second half, Motley finished with a double-double as he had 19 points and 10 rebounds on the afternoon — including five offensive rebounds. Guards Manu Lecomte (16 points) and Al Freeman (15 points) both also finished in double-figures.
Finishing with 13 offensive rebounds, Baylor’s perimeter shooting struggled but they made up for it by cleaning up on the glass. Baylor only shot 2-for-9 from three-point range but they adjusted their offense to attack the rim against VCU as Lecomte and Freeman both did damage off the bounce. The attacking style also paid off for Baylor at the free-throw line as they finished 27-for-33 from the charity stripe.
VCU (3-1) was led by JeQuan Lewis as he finished with 21 points, including an impressive 5-for-10 from three-point range. Ahmed Hamdy-Mohamed finished with 13 points while Jonathan Williams chipped in 12 points.
This is another solid early win for the Bears, as they’ve certainly looked like a top-25 caliber team early in the season. After the win against Oregon, this tournament is a nice chance for Baylor to make another early-season statement as they try to become a factor in a Big 12 race that looks on paper like a one-team (Kansas) race.
Baylor moves on to face the winner of Michigan and St. John’s in the Battle 4 Atlantis.