WACO (AP) — The Baylor Bears got a tough reminder about staying focused.
Willis Hall scored 12 points, including six in a row to break the final tie, and the College of Charleston won 63-59 Saturday night at the 24th-ranked Bears. It was their first home loss against a non-conference opponent in nearly four years.
“We’ve got to be better prepared. Got to stay focused,” A.J. Walton said. “Any given night, any team can be beat, no matter ranked or whatever, what’s on paper. We’ve just got to stay focused.”
The unexpected loss to the Bears (4-2) came a week before their NCAA regional final rematch at eighth-ranked Kentucky, which beat Baylor 82-70 in Atlanta last March.
Charleston (3-2) won against a Top 25 team for the first time since an overtime home victory over No. 9 North Carolina on Jan. 4, 2010. The Cougars’ only other road win against a ranked team was at Georgia Tech in January 1993.
Hall finished with 12 points, including 8 of 10 free throws. The last came with 2.4 seconds left after grabbing a rebound after Baylor missed consecutive shots.
“We knew it was going to be a good game. We were hoping we would pull it out obviously, but I think we’ll learn from it, we’ll be a better team because of it,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said. “It just hurts you the rest of the year because a lot of people coin it as a bad loss even though they’re a good team.”
Pierre Jackson had 21 points with five assists and five rebounds to lead Baylor, which had won 29 consecutive home games against non-conference teams since an 85-84 loss to South Carolina on Jan. 2, 2009.
Jackson, the preseason Big 12 player of the year, missed his last four shots after making a layup and then a 3-pointer in a 45-second span to tie the game at 55 with 3:53 left.
But Hall snapped that tie with two free throws with 3:22 left, putting Charleston ahead to stay. After Jackson and Gary Franklin missed 3-pointers on the same possession, Hall secured the rebound and then made a layup.
Jackson then missed another jumper, and that led to Hall’s jumper with 1:10 left that stretched the lead to 61-55.
“We were looking for a win. Every time we go somewhere, we have to win,” said Adjehi Baru, who had 15 rebounds for Charleston, which beat Boston College its last game.
Isaiah Austin, who had 12 points for Baylor while still working through a sprained ankle, made a layup with 57 seconds left. After Anthony Thomas missed two free throws for Charleston, Franklin made two free throws with 22 seconds left.
Anthony Stitt’s free throw with 18 seconds left stretched the lead to 62-59.
Anthony Thomas had 11 points for Charleston, which shot 49 percent from the field (21 of 43). Andrew Lawrence and Stitt both had 10 points.
“Great team win for us,” Charleston coach Doug Wojcik said. “Our guys have really stepped up.”
Charleston had a 31-26 lead at halftime. Lawrence had three 3s before halftime.
When the game was tied at 18, Lawrence and Matt Sundberg hit 3s before a layup by Thomas made it 26-18.
Baylor got even at 31 on a 3-pointer by Franklin with 17:38 left in the game, and Jackson’s 3 a minute later gave the Bears their first lead since 14-11 only 5 minutes into the game.
Two free throws by Jackson gave Baylor its biggest lead at 43-38 with 13 minutes left. Charleston was even at 46-all after Stitt’s layup 3 minutes later.
The Bears were without senior starting guard Brady Heslip, who didn’t play four days after having his appendix removed.
“You miss his shooting but you also miss his leadership and poise down the stretch,” Drew said. “Hopefully we’ll learn and grow from it, because we should have a lot of close games from here on out.”
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