Baylor was unable to extend its winning streak to four games in its matchup with Montgomery Bell Academy as the Red Raiders suffered a 60-52 loss to the visiting Big Red 60-52 in Friday’s Division II-AA East/Middle Region game.
Baylor (11-8, 2-3), coming off an impressive 22-point win in Wednesday’s non-league game against Bradley Central on Wednesday, simply couldn’t match its focus or intensity from two days earlier.
“I don’t think we were really mentally into the game,” Baylor coach Austin Clark said. “I think we thought it was going to be a little bit easier than it was, and I don’t think we executed very well in the first half.”
With the pressure of such an important league game, along the hope of extending their winning streak, the Red Raiders couldn’t capitalize on their opportunity against the Big Red.
“We didn’t come out at the start of the game like we should have,” Clark said.
Despite its sluggish start, though, Baylor held a 24-21 halftime advantage over its opponent.
The second half was a different story.
The Big Red stormed back in the third quarter, outscoring the Red Raiders 16-5, and junior Kamani Hodges scored nine straight to start the final period, putting MBA ahead 46-29 around the six-minute mark.
“We weren’t mentally in the game,” Clark said. “We weren’t playing with the teamwork that we normally play with. It was just not good.”
Hodges, who finished with 12 points — all of which came in the second half — while teammate Andrew Einstman led all scorers with 19.
Baylor attempted to come from behind late in the fourth, but MBA sunk 14 of its 18 attempts from the free-throw line to seal the eight-point victory.
Clay Born scored a team-high 18 points for Baylor, which included four, deep 3-pointers, Reggie Upshaw finished with 13, while Gage Upshaw and Jeff Bowens each added seven.
The Red Raiders return to action Tuesday when they host first-place Ensworth, followed by another showdown with arch rival McCallie. The Blue Tornado defeated Baylor 63-57 in the championship game of the Best of Preps Tournament on Dec. 29, but the Red Raiders captured a 57-56 win at McCallie last Saturday.