WACO, Texas – South Dakota put up quite a fight against Baylor on Tuesday night.
But when it came to winning time, Makai Mason led the way as the Bears turned it on for a 63-57 victory at the Ferrell Center.
Baylor and South Dakota were tied at 57 when Mason got into the lane and made a jump shot. Then, on the next trip down the floor, he nailed a 3-pointer for the Bears’ first lead since the 14-minute mark of the second half.
Mason’s trey came near the end of a 12-0 run that defined the closing minutes.
The Coyotes took a 57-51 lead when Trey Burch-Manning made a layup with 4:58 remaining. But Baylor’s defense clamped down and forced South Dakota into 0-for-10 shooting after that.
“I think just defensively we were pretty active and we were able to get rebounds,” Mason said. “That really helped us just getting stops. And then we were able to get a couple key buckets down the stretch. But it was really defense that sparked it.”
King McClure scored 15 points to lead Baylor. Mario Kegler, making his Baylor debut after being suspended for the first six games of the season, pitched in 12 points and Mason’s flurry at the end got him into double figures with 10.
Kegler went 1-for-6 from the field in the first half. But he warmed up and shot 60 percent in the second half.
“I came out trying to rush it a little bit, but I slowed it down second half and let it come to me and it kind of worked out for me,” Kegler said.
Burch-Manning led South Dakota (3-3) with 17 points.
South Dakota had a seven-rebound edge late in the second half as the Coyotes seemed to have an inside track on every long rebound and loose ball.
But Baylor turned things around just in time. Bears coach Scott Drew said this style of game will benefit his team more in the long room than a double-digit, easy victory would have.
“I do like the flashes we saw and I do like how we finished the game,” Drew said. “Physically (transfers Mason from Yale and Kegler from Mississippi State) are some men out there.”
Although South Dakota led for most of the first half and took a 29-27 edge to the break, Baylor heated up at the end of the half.
Guard Matthew Mayer got into the lane for a basket, McClure hit a 3-pointer and Mark Vital made a layup on a nifty dish from Mason, finishing off a quick 7-0 run that tied it at 27.
Burch-Manning worked his way into the lane for a jumper with 20 seconds left before halftime to put the Coyotes back in front. He and Matt Johns each scored six in the first half to lead South Dakota.
Mayer paced Baylor with 9 first-half points and McClure added 8.