Baylor beats Old Dominion 76-68 in 2nd round
NEW ORLEANS (AP)—As Josh Lomers ambled over to the bench after fouling out, Baylor coach Scott Drew began waving his arms, asking the crowd to show his 7-footer some love.
There was no need. The fans were already roaring their approval after the senior helped save the Bears’ season.
“We needed him to come through for us,” Drew said. “I think you saw a senior that didn’t want to play his last game.”
Lomers tied a career high with 14 points, 12 in the second half, and third-seeded Baylor withstood a firm challenge from No. 11 Old Dominion for a 76-68 victory Saturday in the second round of the NCAA tournament.
LaceDarius Dunn scored 26 points for the Bears, who squandered a 14-point first-half lead but went on a late 8-1 run to pull away.
Baylor (27-7) now heads back to its home state to play 10th-seeded Saint Mary’s in Houston in the South Regional semifinals.
Overlooked for most of the season—and even for most of this game—Lomers kept the Bears in it after a second-half rally by Old Dominion. He had six rebounds in the half, five at the offensive end, and his three-point play that put Baylor ahead 65-61 started the final big run.
Dunn’s 3-pointer made it 68-62, and a reverse layup by Tweety Carter put Baylor ahead by eight. By the time Lomers fouled out, his teammates were safe from an upset.
“It’s a testament to our team,” Lomers said. “We have a lot of weapons that can do a lot of things. You have to worry about everybody on the court.”
Old Dominion (27-9), which edged No. 6 seed Notre Dame 51-50 in the first round, was trying to become the first team from the Colonial Athletic Association to reach the round of 16 since George Mason’s Final Four run in 2006. The Bears would have none of it, scoring the most points of any Monarchs opponent all season.
Pretty much every win is a milestone these days for Baylor, which only a few years ago was banned from playing non-conference games as part of NCAA penalties for numerous violations under former coach Dave Bliss.
Baylor struggled to beat Sam Houston State in the first round for its first NCAA tournament win since 1950, but the Bears arrived loose and confident against Old Dominion, taking a double-digit lead amid a barrage of early 3-pointers and alley-oops.
Down 38-28, Old Dominion scored nine straight points to start the second half. Frank Hassell dunked to make it a one-point game, then shot the Old Dominion cheering section a quick glance before heading back on defense.
A little while later, Kent Bazemore’s two free throws put Old Dominion ahead 49-47—its first lead since 1-0. At that point—with another double-digit seed awaiting in the next round—the Monarchs could start dreaming of their own George Mason-like run.
“I really felt this team could have won this game and moved on and still been a threat to cause problems,” Old Dominion coach Blaine Taylor said.
The Monarchs could never shake the Bears, though, and they couldn’t contain Lomers.
“He’s 7-foot. You can’t teach that. He was pretty heavy,” Hassell said. “I was trying to box him out and push him out. But I guess I didn’t get low enough and all that.”
Hassell had 15 points and eight rebounds.
Against Sam Houston State, Baylor struggled against a triangle-and-two defense. The Bears looked relieved to see a more conventional defense against Old Dominion. They made their first four shots—including 3-pointers by Dunn and Carter and an alley-oop from Carter to Dunn—to take a 10-1 lead.
Bazemore answered with an alley-oop dunk of his own at the other end, but that did little to stem the tide. Dunn made a 3-pointer and sneaked behind the defense for another alley-oop from Carter for a 15-5 lead.
Baylor led by as many as 14, and yet another alley-oop—again Carter to Dunn—made it 31-18.
“Sam Houston did a great job of containing me and keeping me from doing the things that I do well,” Dunn said. “Today, you know, when it got tight, we just learned to just stay solid and stay within our game.”
Carter finished with 12 points, eight assists and no turnovers.
“He played a tremendous defensive game that first game for us,” Drew said. “Now today, I think everyone got to see what he does on both ends of the court.”