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Bears Advance in Atlantis, Beat VCU 71-63

Behind 19 points from Johnathan Motley, the Bears took care of business in the Bahamas to advance to the second round.

NCAA Basketball: Battle 4 Atlantis-Baylor vs VCU Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

Baylor and an also undefeated VCU team squared off in the first round of the Battle for Atlantis tournament.

Baylor started hot with a 6-0 run aided by some early sloppy play from the Rams. VCU collected themselves quite well, scoring ended the first half on a 12-4 run, taking advantage of 11 first half Baylor turnovers.

The big boys were the story of the day, outrebounding VCU by 8 and controlling the paint on defense.

Jo Lual-Acuil had a rough start, surrendering a number of post-scores. This wasn’t exactly what viewers were expecting, as the Baylor newcomer was averaging 5 blocks per game (and altering many more shots than that).

Johnathan Motley was huge in the second half, drawing critical fouls (9-10 from the FT line) and eating through VCU’s post depth. With this foundation for the offense, Baylor was able to make up the difference, build and then hold a consistent 3-5 point lead. Motley totaled 19 points, most in the second half, before fouling out. Mot also grabbed 10 boards.

Ish Wainright was big all day too. He made a number of huge defensive stops, and he hit Al Freeman late to build on the Bears lead:

Al Freeman had a fantastic day. He finished 6 of 11 from the field with 15 points. Most importantly, Freeman was wonderful late. Freeman sliced through the vaunting VCU defense late in the game for a layup that kept the Bears in control as the Rams tried to make one final push.

The electric Manu Lecomte did most of his damage in the second half after VCU point guard Jonathan Williams locked down the perimeter for the majority of the first half. A timely acrobatic and-1 layup put the Bears up by 6 with 51 seconds left. LeCompte iced the game with 7 consecutive made free throws in the final minute.

This team does NOT lack composure. VCU made strong runs in the later part of the first half and in the early second half, Scott Drew made adjustments, and this team responded. These Bears are still figuring some things out, but the ceiling is very high.

The Bears play at 11 A.M. tomorrow on ESPN. They will take on the winner of Michigan State-St. John’s. That game airs at 6:00 P.M. on Axus.