BAYLOR 52, NOTRE DAME 33
Notre Dame 6 2 14 11 — 33
Baylor 16 19 9 8 — 52
Notre Dame (33) — Stedmon Ford 13, Orr 2, Green 8, Byrd, Davenport 8, Carter, Mink, Johnson, Darras, Harris, Davis 2.
Baylor (52) — Clay Born 10, Matt Clendenen 29, Maum 2, Upshaw 2, Lupas, Bowens 5, Linehart, Seaberg 4, Kelly.
3-point goals: Notre Dame 3 (Ford 3); Baylor 3 (Born 2, Clendenen). Other highlights: Ford 4 s, 3 a (ND); Born, Clendenen 3 s each (B). Records: Baylor 7-2; Notre Dame 8-5.
It's hard to figure out which was better Friday night: Baylor's defense or Matt Clendenen's shooting.
Both were pretty special.
Clendenen scored 29 points on 13-for-19 shooting, and the Red Raiders clamped down the fast-paced Notre Dame attack in a 52-33 victory in the Times Free Press Best of Preps tournament semifinals. Baylor will play for the championship tonight at 8:30 at Chattanooga State.
It will be the first BOP championship appearance for Baylor.
"We're pretty excited about that. It was our goal coming in," Clendenen said. "Notre Dame has a lot of good players, so we had to focus a lot on our defense. We know everybody will get shots in our offense. Our team just did a great job of setting screens, and I was able to get open."
Baylor coach Austin Clark said that although the framework of the offense is a lot of movement and passing, it encourages shots in open opportunities -- if the chances are good ones. And he was pleased with how his Raiders defended, especially in the first half when they took a 35-8 lead into the locker room against the up-tempo Irish.
The Raiders (7-2) primarily switched between 2-3 and 3-2 zone defenses, allowing them to guard shooters on the perimeter -- mainly Stedmon Ford, who had a scoreless first half but finished with 13 points.
"Stedmon is a great player and a great shooter. He's going to get his," Clark said. "We wanted to make things as difficult as we could by not going too far out on him, and when he did penetrate the guys sinked in the right angles."
Although his team was unable to put together much offense, Notre Dame coach J.P. Nermun pointed out that the Irish defense played a part in their inefficiency.
"We're a team that has to create opportunities on defense," he said. "We got frustrated early on because we missed some shots we'd normally make, but we have to stay the course and play with passion on every possession.
"We're just not up to challenges yet. Baylor is a very disciplined team, and we let them play their half-court style. They executed well and did exactly what they wanted to do."
Clay Born added 10 points for the Red Raiders.