The top-seeded Baylor Bears defeated the Houston Cougars 78-59 in the semifinal round of the NCAA March Madness tournament on Saturday night to advance to the championship game for the first time since 1948.
The Bears dominated the first half of the game, heading into halftime 45-28 as the Cougars struggled to find their defensive footing.
Houston had been holding teams to 55.8 points and 39% shooting through four tournament games while not allowing a team to score more than 61 points but they didn’t stand a chance against Baylor’s elite guards and its wealth of 3-point shooters.
The Bears finished shooting 53% and made 11 of 24 3-pointers, with Jared Butler leading the attack, despite not scoring in the second half.
The only highlight for Houston was sophomore Marcus Sasser’s team-carrying offensive performance in the opening half, with him scoring 17 of his 20 points while the rest of the team went a combined 1 of 15 from the field.
It was a brutal finish to the journey for a team that had reached the program’s first Final Four since 1984.
The Bears move on to the championship game where they’ll face Gonzaga, the overall No. 1 seed, or UCLA on Monday night for their first national championship.
“That was one of my goals, to leave a legacy at Baylor,” Butler said after the game. “And you have to win national championships. You have to win. You have to be a great program, be about great things, and that’s what we’re doing.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.