Kansas City, Mo. Baker University bolted to a quick lead, but No. 7-ranked Our Lady of the Lake (Texas) rallied for a 103-88 victory over the Wildcats in the first round of the NAIA Men’s Div. I National Championship on Wednesday.
Baker (21-12) opened with a 21-6 run, but the Saints led, 44-42, by halftime.
“We got off to a great start and handled their pressure well early,” Baker coach Brett Ballard said. “We had about a six- to seven-minute stretch there where we didn’t execute and allowed them to get back into the game.”
Jordan Honore led Baker with 17 points. Ben Steinlage (16 points), Samer Jasser (12) and Todd Johnston (10) joined him in double figures.
“OLLU’s goal is to get you to lose your poise with the pressure they put on you,” Ballard said. “Mentally, we never put our heads down. That’s how we’ve been all year long, and that’s why we’ve had success.”
Baker was playing in its first NAIA tournament since 1941.
Robert Martinez led OLLU (27-7) with 36 points.
“Those guys are just relentless,” Ballard said. “We didn’t make enough stops defensively and we weren’t ever able to get over the hump.”