NEW YORK – Pierre Jackson had his fourth straight double-double with 17 points and 10 assists to lead Baylor to the first National Invitation Tournament basketball title in school history with a 74-54 win over Iowa on Thursday night.
Cory Jefferson scored 23 points and Isaiah Austin had 15 points and nine rebounds for the Bears (23-14), who reached the tournament final five years ago, but never had won it.
Mike Gesell led Iowa (25-13) with 13 points and Aaron White had 12. Hawkeyes star Devyn Marble was held to six points.
Baylor reached the title game with a disjointed, but ultimately winning, effort against BYU in Tuesday night’s semifinal. The Bears looked much more complete on Thursday.
Jefferson threw down two rattling dunks in the first 8 minutes of the half as the Bears slowly pulled away. From Eric May’s layup 2 1/2 minutes into the half until Jackson made a 3-pointer with 13:51 to play, the Bears went on a 14-5 run.
Jackson made a 3-pointer with 10:34 to play that put the Bears up 49-34. Baylor never looked back.
After using a fast start and its characteristically tough defense to beat Maryland in the semifinal, Iowa began the second half on the wrong foot and spent most of the period just trying to keep pace. The Hawkeyes began the second half almost completely unable to make a basket, too, missing eight of their first 10 shots and 11 of 14 after the break, while Baylor pushed its lead out to double digits.
Iowa kept it close in the first half, going into the break down only five points.