March 22, 2019 / 5:41 AM / a month ago

Baylor bests Syracuse in 3-pointer-filled battle

Point guard Makai Mason scored 22 points, and ninth-seeded Baylor hit a season-high 16 3-point shots to beat eighth-seeded Syracuse 78-69 Thursday night in an NCAA Tournament West Region first-round game at Salt Lake City.

Mar 21, 2019; Salt Lake City, UT, USA; Baylor Bears guard Mark Vital (11) and guard Makai Mason (10) celebrate after defeating the Syracuse Orange in the first round of the 2019 NCAA Tournament at Vivint Smart Home Arena. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Mason scored 16 of his points in the first half but was scoreless in the second half until hitting a key jumper with 2:43 left after he grabbed the rebound of his own miss. The basket gave the Bears a 72-67 lead.

He put in two free throws at the 1:09 mark for a seven-point advantage. Mason made two more foul shots for the game’s final points with 31.4 seconds to go.

The teams battled from the 3-point arc for much of the game, combining to hit 28 from long distance, but Syracuse faltered late — making one of its last 10 attempts — to give Baylor breathing room.

The 28 3-pointers set an NCAA Tournament record for a non-overtime game.

Baylor (20-13) will play top-seeded Gonzaga in the second round on Saturday in Salt Lake City.

Syracuse (20-14) saw the end of its streak of first-round victories in its past eight NCAA Tournament appearances. The Orange shot 12 of 29 from 3-point range.

Junior forward Elijah Hughes scored a career-high 25 points for the Orange. Tyus Battle had 16.

Mason, playing through a foot injury, made 4 of 10 3-point attempts. Baylor’s Jared Butler drilled 4 of 9 from deep en route to 14 points. Mario Kegler scored 13 for Baylor, which wound up 16 of 34 from behind the arc.

It was a one-possession game for nearly the first 12 minutes of the second half until Mark Vital’s put-back gave Baylor a 62-57 lead. That was part of an 11-2 Baylor run for a 68-59 lead. Hughes went on a personal 6-0 run to make it 68-65.

The first half was a shooting showcase, with Baylor eking out a 38-37 lead at the half. The Bears hit 10 of 18 3-point shots over the first 20 minutes while Syracuse was 9 of 17.

Baylor came out firing against Syracuse’s 2-3 zone defense, hitting five of its first seven 3-point shots, including a banked trey from Butler, to take a 15-4 lead.

Syracuse joined the barrage, drilling five consecutive 3-point attempts to get within 20-19. The teams combined for 12 3-pointers in the first 10 minutes.

Syracuse played without senior point guard Frank Howard, who was suspended because of a “violation of athletic department policy,” the school announced Wednesday.

—Field Level Media

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