No. 6 Baylor tops VCU 69-61, reaches Battle 4 Atlantis final | Sports

PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) — Baylor finally faced a test. The sixth-ranked Bears responded by cleaning up turnovers, hitting the glass and staying a step or two ahead of VCU.

Matthew Mayer scored 15 points to help the Bears hold off the Rams 69-61 in Thursday’s semifinals of the Battle 4 Atlantis, sending Baylor into Friday’s championship game. It marked the reigning national champions’ first game decided by fewer than a dozen points in the young season, and this one had them battling until the final seconds to protect their margin.

“It was huge for us,” Mayer said. “Just our first real test, I would say, in terms of a close game at the end. … we’ve got a lot of toughness. I’m just glad we could kind of get that out of the way so we can find that out about ourselves.”

Freshman Kendall Brown added 14 points for the Bears (6-0), who committed just five second-half turnovers after 13 in the first half against VCU’s full-court and trapping pressure. That first-half total surpassed Baylor’s full-game totals in four games earlier this season.

“It just shows us how connected we are (against) a team like that that can get in your head and press and cause turnovers,” Brown said. “It just shows our poise throughout the game: Just stay level-headed and keep going at it.”

Baylor also controlled the glass (42-33) and pulled down 17 offensive boards to finish with a 15-3 edge in second-chance points.

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