WACO, Texas (AP) — Ishmail Wainright is the lone senior for 11th-ranked Baylor, and was recognized with a video tribute after his final home game.
This also likely was the Ferrell Center finale for Johnathan Motley, a standout junior and potential NBA lottery pick who delivered quite a farewell to Bears fans if this was indeed his last game there.
Motley scored 19 of his 23 points after halftime in a 71-62 victory over 10th-ranked West Virginia on Monday night. The Bears avenged a 21-point loss in Morgantown on Jan. 10, when they were playing their first-ever game as No. 1 in the AP Top 25 after winning their first 15 games.
“It was about getting him a ‘W’,” Motley said of Wainright. “I made sure I did everything I could … everybody else followed.”
When asked if it was his last game in Waco, Motley responded, “I don’t know, man. I’m just glad we got the ‘W’ for Ish.”
Al Freeman had 12 points with two late 3-pointers and Jo Lual-Acuil added 11 points and 10 rebounds for Baylor (24-6, 11-6 Big 12), which ended the game with a 30-13 run over the final 9 minutes.
“Defensively, we got real tentative,” West Virginia coach Bob Huggins said. “And really they just beat us to death on the glass.”
The Bears, who finished with a 43-23 rebounding margin, controlled the ball and the tempo over the final stretch.
Before three turnovers in the final minute, when the Mountaineers scored the game’s last four points, Baylor didn’t have a turnover in its big run to go ahead.
“If you can get stops, and then get in transition, that’s so big and so critical,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “When they score they set up the press. And by the time you get it across half court, you’re ready for a water break.”
Jevon Carter had 18 points and nine rebounds for West Virginia (23-7, 11-6), which led 49-41 after his jumper with 9:04 left. The Mountaineers didn’t score again until his nifty basket 3 minutes later — when he drove, stopped, twisted and then scored with a short jumper — that put them ahead for the last time.
Tarik Phillip had 12 points and Elijah Macon 11 for the Mountaineers.
Between those Carter baskets, Baylor scored nine points in a row for its first lead of the second half. Motley had seven of those, including a two-handed slam that became a three-point play after he was fouled and another tough inside basket.
When Carter finally scored again put WVU up 51-50, Lual-Acuil had another inside basket before Wainright had a steal and breakaway layup.
“This was extremely special. My last one, a great ride four years in the making,” Wainright said. “They said it was for me and that’s the only thing I can really say about that one. A great team.”
West Virginia: Contributing to the Mountaineers being tentative was having Carter and Nathan Adrian (two points in 16 minutes) in foul trouble. “I don’t care who you are, your two best players are in the foul trouble, you probably don’t want them” to be that aggressive, Huggins said. … WVU lost for only the second time in a seven-game stretch when its only other loss was in overtime at top-ranked Kansas.
Baylor: The Bears won without starting point guard Manu Lecomte, who missed the game with a sprained right ankle. Baylor did have 18 turnovers — 11 fewer than the January game — which the Mountaineers turned into 20 points.
DREW ON MOTLEY
“I don’t want to consider that right now,” Drew said, when asked if Motley had played his home finale. “One thing our staff has always been, our job is to serve our players. And they all have goals and dreams and aspirations, and we want to help them reach them. And when they can reach them, we’ve done our job.”
HUGGINS ON MOTLEY
“Hard to guard him at the foul line,” Huggins said. “In 35 years as a head coach, I haven’t figured out how to do that yet. Make 11 free throws, you’re going to have a good day.” Motley was 11 of 11, nine in the second half.
West Virginia: Plays regular-season finale at home Friday night against No. 24 Iowa State.
Baylor: Ends regular season on the road against Texas on Saturday.