Duke's late run ends Bears' season

March, 28, 2010

HOUSTON -- Baylor's dream season has come to an end at the hands of Duke's stifling defense and a 10-1 run over a two- minute span in the final 3:42. Duke took a 78-71 victory at Reliant Stadium and will head to its first Final Four since 2004, while the Bears will head back to Waco with the program officially elevated.

Ekpe Udoh, who had a monster game at both ends. He had five blocked shots, four in the second half, and he made a tremendous spin move to give Baylor a 61-60 lead with 3:42 to go, but Nolan Smith and Jon Scheyer hit consecutive 3-pointers and Lance Thomas slammed home an offensive rebound for an and-1 that gave Duke a 70-62 lead with 1:36 left.

Moments later, tempers flared and Baylor's Quincy Acy was called for technical foul. Scheyer made both free throws for a 72-62 lead and the huge partisan crowd at Reliant Stadium grew silent, sensing the impending end.

What a season for the Bears, though. They finish with a school-record 28 wins, more NCAA tournament wins (three) than they had in the previous 60 years. They put on a show in the regional semifinal in front of 45,000 fans in a rout of Saint Mary's to reach the program's first Elite Eight.

Baylor finished the first half with a whale of a run, 10-3, that put it ahead 35-32 after trailing most of the first half by a small deficit.

If the Bears had known they'd hold Duke's second-leading scorer, Kyle Singler, without a field goal they probably would have liked their chances. But Smith put together a dazzling performance with a game-high 29 points, including 17 in the second half. Jon Scheyer had his issues, but came up with key 3-pointers.

But, it was Smith's four-point possession with 3:36 to play that made the difference. He made the first of two free throws and got the ball back at the 3-point arc after an offensive rebound. Smith hit the shot, turning a 61-60 deficit into a 64-61 lead that Duke would extend to 70-62.

Duke won despite shooting barely better than 36 percent in large part because of a dominant game on the boards that included 22 offensive rebounds. Baylor was hurt by foul trouble to 7-foot center Josh Lomers, who fouled out with some eight minutes left in the game. That left Udoh to fight on his own and what a job he did. If this is his final game in a Bears uniform he went out with a steely finish: 18 points, nine rebounds, six assists and five blocked shots.

But, Duke's pressure, man-to-man defense proved too tough. Senior Tweety Carter, in his farewell game, finished with 12 points and four assists, but he was just 2-of-7 from the 3-point line. Junior LaceDarius Dunn scored 22 points after scoring 13 in the first half.

Quincy Acy finished with 12 points and seven rebound, five on the offensive glass.

The Bears led 44-41 with 17:22 left in the game, but over the next five minutes managed to score just three points. Duke couldn't do much as it went cold, too, but the Blue Devils managed to go ahead 49-46.

Baylor would take a 55-54 lead on a beautiful drive by Dunn. The lead went back-and-forth until Smith's four-point play energized Duke down the stretch.



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