NCAAB: No. 3 Baylor strides past UC-Santa Barbara, 74-56

Adam Flagler posted 18 points and five assists and Caleb Lohner scored a season-high 13 points off the bench Friday as No. 3 seed Baylor outlasted No. 14 seed UC Santa Barbara 74-56 in the first round of the NCAA Tournament in Denver.

After trailing at halftime, Baylor (23-10) led by just 59-52 with less than nine minutes remaining, but then outscored UCSB 15-4 the rest of the way. The Bears will face either sixth-seeded Creighton in the second round in the South Region on Sunday.

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LJ Cryer added 11 of his 15 points in the second half and teamed with Flagler to account for all 15 points during the Bears’ game-ending run. Lohner, in his first year at Baylor after starting for BYU last season, made all five of his field goal attempts and added five rebounds in 18 minutes of action — the most he has played in a game since before Christmas.

“I was ready when my number was called,” Lohner said. “My role on this team is just to do whatever I can to help win. At the end of the day, today was the day that I needed to step up a little bit. I’m so grateful that we can be moving on and keep playing basketball.”

Miles Norris scored 15 points and Ajay Mitchell had 13 and four assists to lead the Gauchos (27-8), champions of the Big West Conference.

UCSB led 36-35 at halftime thanks to a 16-of-26 (61.5 percent) shooting performance. Baylor held UCSB to 7-of-23 (30.4 percent) from the field after halftime.

The Gauchos were ahead 41-39 with 17:49 to play when Baylor strung together a 9-0 run to create the separation it badly needed.

Flagler hit a corner 3 to give Baylor its first double-digit lead all day, 64-52 with 7:30 left. Flagler drained his third triple of the day and Cryer added two more jumpers to ice it.

The first half featured 12 lead changes and five ties. Lohner scored six straight points, ending with an open dunk, and Flager added a 3-pointer to give Baylor its largest lead of the first half at 21-13 with 9:42 to go.

That’s when the Gauchos answered with an extended 13-1 stretch. While the Bears went 0-for-4 with one turnover over a nearly four-minute span, UCSB received a 3 from Josh Pierre-Louis and an old-fashioned three-point play by Evans Kipruto.

Cole Anderson broke a 22-22 tie with consecutive 2-pointers for UCSB’s largest lead, prompting Baylor coach Scott Drew to call timeout. The Bears made their next three shots — including Jonathan Tchamwa Tcahtchoua’s big dunk and Dale Bonner’s triple — for a 7-0 response. The Gauchos moved back in front, but Flagler’s jumper with four seconds left trimmed it to 36-35 at halftime.

–Field Level Media

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