WACO, Texas — With Oregon’s 7-foot-2 freshman sensation Bol Bol sitting on the bench in a boot, Baylor did everything it could to attack the vulnerable Ducks in the paint.
Dishes to Tristan Clark and Mark Vital were the order of the night.
Clark collected 13 points and eight rebounds while Vital finished with 11 points and eight boards as the Bears overcame the Ducks, 57-47, before 7,411 fans Friday night at the Ferrell Center.
The Bears (7-4) dominated the boards by a 33-18 margin and led by as many as 16 points early in the second half. The Ducks (8-4) cut the lead to 47-45, but Baylor closed with a 10-2 run to seal the win to snap Oregon’s four-game winning streak.
“They had 12-2 second-chance points and they beat us 15 on the boards, that’s probably the first place it starts,” Oregon coach Dana Altman said. “Then we had bad turnovers. We weren’t making plays for our teammates and we took a lot of bad shots in the first half. We’d drive and just throw something up, so we weren’t thinking about getting in there against their zone and make a play.”
With Bol missing his third straight game with a left foot injury, a big hole was left in the middle of Oregon’s defense and the Bears furiously attacked it. Bol is averaging a team-high 21 points, 9.6 rebounds and 2.7 blocks in nine games.
“When we penetrated, we were able to get some post touches easier,” said Baylor guard Makai Mason, who finished with 14 points and four assists. “Once we got Tristan the ball, if he’s one-on-one, he’s going to score that. If not, the defense is going to key in on him and that’s wide-open shots for us.”
Altman said he didn’t know how much longer Bol or sophomore forward Abu Kigab would be out. Kigab has missed the last two games after suffering an ankle injury against Boise State.
Baylor’s zone defense was so effective that Oregon hit just one of its first 15 shots. The Bears went into halftime with a 28-16 lead before opening up a 37-21 lead in the early minutes of the second half.
But the Ducks finally found their shooting groove and began cutting into Baylor’s lead. With Payton Pritchard draining four second-half three-pointers, the Ducks sliced the lead to 47-45 with 3:30 remaining.
Pritchard scored 12 of his team-high 14 points in the second half.
“We were stagnant (in the first half), the ball wasn’t moving,” Altman said. “It didn’t translate very well what we worked on in practice to the game scenario. We weren’t very aggressive, and when we did get aggressive, we just made the wrong decisions. But he (Pritchard) hit a few threes and got us back into the game. Guys moved it a little bit better and we made some better plays.”
The Bears were without Vital in the closing minutes after he fell hard on his back while trying to grab a rebound with 6:43 remaining. Baylor coach Scott Drew said Vital is OK, but Baylor chose to rest him the rest of the game.
“Mark’s such a warrior, he wanted to go back in the game,” Drew said. “But he’s got a couple days now to get healthy and get right. I know that was a hard fall. Certain guys tend to stay down longer than others. He’s one of those guys that if he stays down, he’s hurt.”
Instead of collapsing like they did in Tuesday’s 59-58 loss to Stephen F. Austin, the Bears finished strong.
Mason nailed a floater to give the Bears a 49-45 lead. After Oregon’s Louis King missed an outside shot, Mario Kegler hit a free throw for the Bears.
Pritchard finally cooled off and missed a three-pointer and Mason drove for a basket. Then, freshman Jared Butler made a sensational spin move past Victor Bailey for a basket to push Baylor’s lead to 54-45 with 55 seconds remaining.
After Kegler hit another free throw, Bailey drilled a short jumper for the Ducks with 38 seconds left. But Mason, who has been battling an ankle injury all season, finished off Baylor’s win with a pair of free throws with 35 seconds remaining.
“He (Mason) did some nice things, he hit a couple of big threes that they needed in a timely matter and then got to the rim and shot a layup," Altman said. "They’re experienced and their size bothered us.”