PARADISE ISLAND, Bahamas (AP) Al Freeman scored 15 points and came up with three baskets during a critical second-half sequence to help No. 20 Baylor beat VCU 71-63 on Wednesday in the opening round of the Battle 4 Atlantis.
Jonathan Motley scored a team-high 19 points before fouling out for the Bears (4-0). In addition, Manu Lecomte shook off a rough shooting game to finish with 16 points, including a hanging layup while being knocked to the ground for a three-point play to go with several key free throws in the final minute.
JeQuan Lewis had 21 points for the Rams (3-1), who went without a basket for roughly 6 1/2 minutes during the second half.
VCU used a late-half burst to lead 36-28 at the break and shot 58 percent in the opening half, but it cooled in the second half as the Bears' defense tightened.
VCU: The Rams just couldn't find someone to step up and make a big basket as the empty possessions mounted during the critical second-half stretch. That included a run of six straight misses with a few turnovers during that field-goal drought.
Baylor: Coach Scott Drew could at least feel good about his team's toughness to grind this one out after trailing through the first 9 minutes of the second half.
VCU: The Rams will play the loser of the St. John's-Michigan State game Thursday on Day 2 of the three-day tournament.
Baylor: The Bears will play the St. John's-Michigan State winner Thursday in the winner's bracket semifinals.