MORGANTOWN, W.Va. — In the latest of what has become a series of compelling finishes at the Coliseum this winter, Baylor made the clutch plays at the end of regulation and in overtime to hold off West Virginia, 94-89.
Jared Butler’s drive to the hoop with less than three seconds left in regulation sent the game to an extra session and the Bears scored the final six points in overtime to secure the Big 12 regular season championship.
“That’s a very well-coached basketball team. We had every opportunity to win. We didn’t finish. We turned the ball over at the most inopportune times and really for no reason,” said WVU head coach Bob Huggins.
“When you are playing against some of the top teams in the nation, every possession matters on defense and offense,” said WVU sophomore guard Deuce McBride. “When you give a great team another possession and then another possession, it is just going to add up and they will take advantage of it at some point.”
Baylor built a ten-point lead before the first media timeout less than four minutes into the game. The Bears led 12-2 and extended that cushion to a dozen points at the 13:26 mark.
West Virginia slowly worked their way back into the game. Taz Sherman scored eight consecutive points for the Mountaineers and finished the first half with a dozen. Late in the half, Deuce McBride scored five in a row for WVU to get them within a basket at 32-30. Baylor took a four-point lead into the locker room after Jared Butler drilled a triple from the corner at the buzzer and the Bears led 35-31.
Sean McNeil caught fire in the opening minutes of the second half and a 10-0 WVU run gave them a 50-43 lead with 13:54 to play. McNeil scored 15 of his 18 points in the second half.
After Baylor scored the next five points to creep within a basket, neither team led by more than five points the rest of the way. The lead changed hands four times in the final two minutes of regulation. Trailing by two points with 13 seconds to play, Butler’s drive to the hoop tied the game at 81 and eventually sent the game to overtime.
In the extra session, WVU took a two-point lead with two minutes to play on a deep three-pointer from Jalen Bridges with the shot clock winding down. The Mountaineers led 88-86. The Bears however tied the score on the next possession when Butler scored his 24th and 25th points of the game. Baylor ended the game on a 6-0 run over the final 57 seconds.
“We played well in spurts, especially in the second half,” McNeil said. “Going into overtime, we kind of lost that fire, that energy. And we let is slip away.”
Butler led four Baylor (19-1, 11-1 Big 12) players in double figures with 25 points. Davion Mitchell scored 20, Matthew Mayer added 18 and MaCio Teague chipped in with 11.
Sherman led the Mountaineers with 26 points. McBride scored 19, McNeil added 18 and Bridges netted a dozen. WVU made 28-of-32 free throw attempts but two of the four misses came in critical points late in the game. McBride missed one with 13 seconds left in regulation that would have extended the Baylor deficit to three points. Sherman missed one with 1:15 to play in overtime.
“Down the stretch, we haven’t made free throws,” Huggins said. “We didn’t make them against Oklahoma. We didn’t make them against Texas. We didn’t make them against Florida. We don’t make them down the stretch. They made theirs. We didn’t make ours.”
“We made enough plays but we didn’t do the little stuff that matters,” McBride said. “Not talking on certain things, and not executing on offense great at the end. At the end of the day, they just did more of the little stuff to win the game.”
West Virginia (17-7, 10-5 Big 12) continues their regular season-ending four-game homestand Thursday against TCU (12-10, 5-8 Big 12).
(Bob Huggins postgame Zoom conference)