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WACO, Texas (AP) — Big 12 scoring leader Melvin Ejim struggled with his shot all game, and Georges Niang was ineffective for No. 16 Iowa State after getting called for two quick fouls.
Even without much help from two of their top scorers, the Cyclones managed to keep things close at Baylor — until a miserable closing stretch.
Brady Heslip scored 18 points, with all five of his 3-pointers coming in the second half, and Baylor's NCAA tournament hopes got a much-needed boost with a 74-61 victory over the Cyclones on Tuesday night. His tiebreaking 3 with 2:14 left started a game-ending 13-0 run.
"They switched back to their zone defense, and we didn't make shots there in that last 4-minute stretch," Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. "We gave ourselves an opportunity to win. ... We have not had too many games where turnovers have hurt us. I thought tonight they did. It's just unfortunate, but we didn't make the plays down the stretch."
Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12), in the mix for the No. 2 seed in next week's Big 12 tournament, lost its second road game in four days.
The Cyclones, who lost at Kansas State on Saturday, were held under 70 points for the first time this season. They didn't score after DeAndre Kane's wide-open 3 tied the game at 61 with 4:10 left, their 12th 3-pointer in the game but only the second after halftime.
Kane finished with 20 points, but that was his only basket after halftime.
Ejim's six points were 13 below his average while he made only 3 of 14 shots and missed all five 3-point tries. He did have nine rebounds.
"We'll be fine. Hey, we lost two road games in the Big 12 Conference," Hoiberg said. "We're not the only team that that's happened to. "
There were 15 lead changes and four ties before Heslip put Baylor (20-10, 8-9) ahead to stay.
And his final regular-season game at the Ferrell Center may just be the victory that helps get the Bears back into the NCAA tournament.
"You guys don't know how happy I am right now. All I wanted to do was win. I just wanted to leave everything out there so we could win," Heslip said. "This was the best feeling I've felt in this gym, no question."
The Bears have won seven of eight games since starting 2-8 in Big 12 play.
"Absolutely. No question," Baylor coach Scott Drew said, when asked if his team is an NCAA tournament team.
The Bears last season had to settle for winning the NIT championship, a year after making it to an NCAA regional final for the second time in three years.
Cory Jefferson, like Heslip a senior playing his final home game, had 21 points and seven rebounds. Kenny Chery, a junior college transfer who took over as the Bears' point guard this season, finished with 16 points and hit two long jumpers after Heslip's go-ahead shot.
"Easily a big-time win for us," Jefferson said.
Royce O'Neale had 11 rebounds for Baylor, which is at Kansas State on Saturday.
Dustin Hogue added 12 points for the Cyclones, who are home Saturday against Oklahoma State.
Heslip missed his only two shots before halftime, when his only points came on three free throws after being fouled and knocked down taking a long-range shot with 36 seconds remaining in the half. That gave the Bears a 36-35 lead.
Ejim, playing on his 23rd birthday, missed his first eight shots before consecutive layups midway through the second half put the Cyclones up 49-48. The second layup came after a steal by Hogue.
"Georges obviously had two fouls in 2 minutes, and that hurts us a lot, especially against zone where Georges is kind of our playmaker in the middle of that thing. Georges never really got in a rhythm tonight," Hoiberg said. "Melvin, he's out there battling for us, he's playing against bigger guys, bigger, longer guys. It was just one of those nights."
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