The Baylor Bears found out that lighting can strike twice within a couple of hours in this year’s NCAA Tournament.
Within an hour of each other, both the Baylor Bears and Iowa State Cyclones, No. 3 seeds representing what all season was billed as the best conference in college basketball, fell victim to a 14th-seedsd team in their opening game in the 2015 NCAA Tournament.
R.J. Hunter of Sun Belt Conference champion Georgia State, connected on a three-point jumper with three seconds remaining in the game to erase a two-point Baylor lead and put his team up by one with what turned out to be the game-winning shot.Mar 19, 2015; Jacksonville, FL, USA; Georgia State Panthers forward Markus Crider (33) is defended by Baylor Bears forward Rico Gathers (2) and forward Taurean Prince (21) in the first half of a game in the second round of the 2015 NCAA Tournament at Jacksonville Veteran Memorial Arena. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports
When Hunter’s victory-seizing shot went through the net, his father, head coach Ron Hunter, literally fell out of his chair. The Georgia State coach suffered an Achilles injury the last time his team celebrated a win, defeating Georgia Southern in the conference championship to earn that league’s automatic NCAA berth.
The Bears led by 10 points in the opening half, but Georgia State battled back to trail by just three points at the half. Baylor held on to the lead for most of the second half, and held a 12-point advantage, 56-44, with less than four minutes to go.
The Bears, however, did not score another point the remainder of the game. Meanwhile, Georgia State scored the final 13 points, the final three coming on Hunter’s back-breaking trey.
Baylor’s Taurean Prince launched a desperation shot at the buzzer, but to no avail as a second 14th-seeded team ended the tournament run for a high-seeded team out of the Big 12.
Prince led the Bear’s in scoring, posting 18 points coming off the bench, but no one else in the Baylor lineup was able to get into double digits. The Bears led the Panthers in virtually every statistical category except in turnovers and the final score. It turned out that Baylor’s own mistake in mishandling the ball is what ultimately doomed them.
The Bears committed 21 turnovers in the game to just six for Georgia State.
The coach’s son led the Panthers in scoring with 16 points, none more important than his big three-point shot at the end.
Baylor’s season ended with 24-10 overall record. The Bears had entered the game with the second-best winning percentage in NCAA Tournament history on a 17-4 tournament record.