WACO, Texas – Jalen Bridges scored 12 of his 13 points in the second half, and No. 12 Baylor pulled away from Northwestern State in the second half for a 58-48 victory on Tuesday night.
Bridges was 5-for-8 from the floor, making him the only player with four or more attempts to shoot better than 50 percent. LJ Cryer and Dale Bonner added 11 points apiece for the Bears (9-2), who have won four in a row.
“You’ve just got to adjust to how the game is going. We were getting great looks from the three, they just weren’t really falling,” Bridges said. “We were getting great looks in general. We just kind of made a point of emphasis to get into the paint and create for others and create easy looks for our teammates, and that’s what we did and it worked.”
Baylor, which won despite shooting 39% from the floor, went on a 14-0 run to take control for good after Northwestern State’s DeMarcus Sharp made a jumper to open the second-half scoring and tie the game at 24.
Sharp had 17 points and 10 rebounds to lead Northwestern State (8-4), while Ja’Monta Black added 17 points but was only 6-for-22 from the floor and 5-for-20 from 3-point range.
The Demons, who shot 32% from the floor and 25% from beyond the arc, made 3-pointers on three straight possessions midway through the first half, which gave them a 17-15 lead. Baylor responded with a 9-0 run and never trailed again.
“Their style of play is really good as far as something no one wants to play against,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “It gives them a chance to stay in games like this, so kudos to them. I thought our guys played really good defense.”
Northwestern State: The Demons’ plan to slow down the game and use the entire shot clock worked in the first half, but the Bears’ swarming defense was too much after halftime. Northwestern State missed nine of its first 10 shots of the second half and was off the mark on its first 11 3-point tries after intermission.
Baylor: The Bears struggled against Northwestern State’s slow-down style until late in the first half. Their first two fast-break baskets of the game came during their 9-0 run late in the first half, and both of them came when Bonner collected steals near midcourt and finished with a layup and dunk. Baylor got the pace more to its liking in the second half but fell well short of its Big 12-leading average of 82.6 points per game.
Baylor led 24-22 at halftime, and the teams’ shooting stats were nearly identical. Northwestern State was 9-for-27, including 4-for-12 from 3-point range, while Baylor was 9-for-28 overall and 4-for-11 from beyond the arc. Baylor’s only advantage came at the free throw line, where it was 2-for-5 while the Demons missed both their tries.
Baylor’s Josh Ojianwuna, a 6-foot-10 freshman from Asaba, Nigeria, said he had never gone against a player as tall as Northwestern State’s 7-3 Jordan Wilmore.
“No, there was a guy at the (NBA Global Academy) that I think was 7-1. But not 7-3. I was standing close to the guy, and I looked at him, and I was like, ‘You’re tall.’”
Wilmore had a rebound and three fouls in 16 minutes of action.
Northwestern State will complete a three-game road trip when it meets Texas A&M on Tuesday.
Baylor will face another Southland Conference foe when it hosts Nicholls State on Dec. 28.
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