For the Baylor boys' basketball team Saturday evening, it was as simple as hitting free throws.
Three weeks after dropping an overtime contest to McCallie, the Red Raiders finished the deal the second time around, hitting big shots in the fourth quarter to hold off the Blue Tornado 48-42 for a Division II-AA East/Middle region victory.
Baylor finished only 6-for-12 at the line, but included in that was a 4-for-6 showing in the fourth quarter. Senior Matt Clendenen scored a game-high 16 points, including a clutch 3-pointer from the corner with 1:55 remaining that pushed the Baylor lead to 44-38.
"It's good to finally come to their place and get a win. I know the rest of the seniors feel great. I feel amazing," Clendenen said. "That 3-pointer was definitely one of the best shots of my career. We knew that McCallie was definitely one of the best teams in our division, so getting a win like tonight could be a momentum builder."
Baylor (13-7, 3-3) held a 29-27 advantage after three quarters of play, but a layup by Jordan Atkins with 3:30 remaining tied the game at 36. An Amadeo Giussani three-point play 15 seconds later gave Baylor the lead back, and then an acrobatic layup by Spencer King was followed by Clendenen's dagger that effectively put the game away.
"We finished the game this time," Baylor coach Austin Clark said. "We hit some big free throws, and defensively I thought we played really well. I thought we did a great job of coming out tonight. We had a tough game last night at Ensworth, so I thought we showed some courage coming home and getting a win against our rivals."
Giussani scored 12 points for the Red Raiders. C.J. Fritz had 11 and Adrian Thomas added 10 for McCallie (10-11, 4-2). The Blue Tornado struggled at the line, hitting only two of 10 free throws. They can still claim the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye in the state playoffs with a win over Father Ryan on Friday.
"I thought it mattered more to Baylor than it did to us. They played with a lot more urgency, especially in the second half," McCallie coach Dan Wadley said. "Give Baylor all the credit in the world: Our defense was there, but they had a good scheme and hurt us defensively."
Contact Gene Henley at firstname.lastname@example.org or 423-757-6311. Follow him at twitter.com/genehenleytfp.
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