Matthew Mayer scores 22 points as Baylor outshines Norfolk State 85-49
March 17, 2022
Matthew Mayer had a career-high 22 points and made a memorable first-half salute, and a dunk as the defending champion the Baylor Bears defeated Norfolk State 85-49 on Thursday.
Mayer created the highlight of the match after completing a perfect pass, which resulted in a half-ending fast break. After his impressive dunk, the six-foot-nine guard, who finished the game on 8-of-12 shooting, made a salute to the Spartans' band.
"I thought it was like a rebound or something, and then all of sudden the ball was just right in front of me," the 22-year-old guard said. "I was like, 'Wow, that was great.'"
Mayer, who has been a full-time starter for the Bears the last three years, has been inconsistent this season. But he's capable of scoring in bunches and is expected to impact the tournament with the team missing its big man.
Jeremy Sochan, the man who grabbed the rebound, was credited with an assist on the play, even though he did not initially intend to pass the ball to Mayer. "I didn't really pass it to him, but I'll take it. I'll take it," the pink-haired forward jokingly said.
Sochan attempted to get around Norfolk State's Joe Bryant when he fell to the floor. The Spartans' Tyrese Jenkins then swatted the ball away from his hands, allowing Mayer to get a fast break and an easy dunk.
Bryant, the Norfolk State's leading scorer, said he should have dumped the ball to his big man instead of trying to get around Sochan. "First, I should have dumped it off to my big man, who was wide open. I fell, so I couldn't really see what happened," the MEAC player of the year said.
Sochan had a strong game for the Bears, finishing with 15 points and seven rebounds. They will face North Carolina, which defeated Shaka Smart and Marquette.
Norfolk State as underdog
Norfolk State was considered one of the biggest underdogs in the tournament's first round. The Spartans played in the NCAA Tournament for the 10th time in 10 years. They were a 21 1/2-point underdog when they defeated Missouri.
Norfolk State's senior guard Jalen Hawkins, who is regarded as the team's second-leading scorer, was suspended for the first half of the game for a violation of team rules. He didn't enter the game until the 16:45 mark of the second half.
Throughout the game, Norfolk State coach Robert Jones noted that his team was slacking and let the Bears pull away. "At some stretches, I think we let the moment get away from us a little bit," he said.
Pleasing performance from Baylor
Despite the lack of support from the crowd, the Bears were able to pull away from the Spartans with a balanced scoring attack that featured 14 points from Flo Thamba and 11 from Adam Flagler.
After losing in the Big 12 tournament's quarterfinals, coach Drew Scott was pleased with his team's response against Norfolk State.
"It was fun to watch. Not many things to complain about this game for sure," Drew said. "I think that was a conscious effort of everybody to come out and be a lot more aggressive in both halves. And we did that, and set the tone early."