WACO (AP) – Kenny Chery was wondering how he missed that layup at the end of regulation. Baylor’s point guard more than made up for it in overtime.
Chery scored 12 of his 20 points in the extra period for the 12th-ranked Bears, who returned from an extended break with a 91-84 victory over Northwestern State on Wednesday night.
“That’s a layup I usually make,” Chery said of the shot with 2 seconds left in regulation that he said wasn’t blocked. “In overtime, I needed to be aggressive. We needed to come out with a win.”
Chery had a steal in the first minute of overtime after Sabri Thompson lost control of the ball. Chery picked it up and drove to make a tough short jumper while being fouled. He shouted out while still sitting on the court after the ball went through the hoop to put the Bears (9-1) ahead to stay. He added the free throw.
There was an assist for Chery on Gary Franklin’s 3-pointer in the extra period. After Brison White’s jumper got Northwestern State within 82-80 with 2 minutes left, Chery drove for a layup and then made a 3-pointer after a shot-clock violation by the Demons (4-6).
“He’ll probably be mad about that shot he didn’t make to win it at the end of regulation,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said of Chery, correctly predicting the junior college transfer who is now his starting point guard.
“He did a great job in overtime,” Drew said. “He controlled the tempo, and made a lot of great plays.”
Royce O’Neal missed a putback after Chery’s miss.
Cory Jefferson had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Baylor, which was playing for the first time in 12 days. Rico Gathers had 19 points and 10 rebounds, and Franklin added 11 points.
Jalan West had 26 points for Northwestern State, including a tying 3-pointer with 14 seconds left in regulation.
“Actually I thought I missed it,” West said. “I was excited when I saw it go in.”
DeQuan Hicks and Zikiteran Woodley had 15 points each for the Demons, and White had 11.
Jefferson had a thunderous two-handed dunk after a behind-the-back pass from Franklin with 2:49 left in regulation that gave the Bears a 74-69 lead, but that wasn’t enough to avoid overtime.
West made a jumper before Chery had a bad pass that went out of bounds for a turnover. Northwestern State then got a second-chance tip by White after he missed his own shot with 1:17 left. But Jefferson made two free throws with a minute left for a 76-73 lead.
West missed a 3-pointer, but White got the rebound to give him another chance — and West hit from the top of the key.
Northwestern State had a 38-36 rebounding edge, the first team this season to beat Baylor on the boards.
The Bears played for the first time since a 67-62 win over then-No. 3 Kentucky on Dec. 6. That game before final exams was at the Dallas Cowboys’ massive stadium where the NCAA Final Four will be played in April.
The game was tied 38-all at halftime before Jefferson scored nine points in the first 4½ minutes of the second half to put Baylor ahead to stay. His alley-oop dunk from Franklin at the end of that spurt gave Baylor a 51-45 lead.
Northwestern State plays Thursday night at UTEP. The Demons, who had to wait for one of the players to finish an exam earlier in the day before getting on a bus to Waco, stayed there after the game. They faced a 100-mile drive to Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport on Thursday for a day-of-game flight to El Paso.
This is the second time already this season that Northwestern State is playing two games in two nights at different cities. And this trip between cities is longer, even though it’s in the same state.
Last month, the Demons won 111-92 at Auburn and then traveled to LSU the next night, when they lost 88-74. It is about 420 miles between those two SEC schools.
Before getting home Friday, they will have trailed 1,930 miles over three days, about 670 of those on a bus. It is about 640 miles from Waco to El Paso.
“Our team wouldn’t want it any other way. We want to work for it, instead of having it given to us,” West said. “The nonconference sets us up for our regular conference. It makes us play better.”
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