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West Virginia comes up short in battle with No. 5 Baylor

After a back-and-forth shootout, it was the Mountaineers that ran out of gas first.

NCAA Basketball: Baylor at West Virginia Ben Queen-USA TODAY Sports

The West Virginia Mountaineers (13-4, 2-3 Big 12) found themselves on the losing end of a back-and-forth battle with No. 5 ranked Baylor Bears on Tuesday evening, falling to the defending national champions, 77-68 in Morgantown.

Baylor controlled a 16-point lead with 8:48 remaining in the first half, but West Virginia refused to go away without a fight, narrowing the Bears’ lead to four points at the end of the first half.

The Mountaineers continued the fight through the opening portion of the second half, eventually taking the lead, 45-44, with just under 15 minutes remaining. The two teams traded blows throughout the ensuing seven minutes, with WVU still clinging to a one-point lead, 54-53, at the under 8:00 media timeout.

The battle continued out of the timeout, with the Bears regaining a narrow lead before a Gabe Osabuohein layup and the and one put the Mountaineers back within one point. Unfortunately, WVU ultimately ran out of steam and couldn’t capitalize, while the Bears grew their lead to double digits as the game clock expired.

Malik Curry scored a team-high 19 points, 6 rebounds off the bench. Taz Sherman finished with 18 points, and Sean McNeil followed closely with 17 points. Jalen Bridges chipped in 7 points, 6 rebounds.

The Mountaineers are back in action on Saturday when they travel to Lubbock, Texas to take on the Texas Tech Red Raiders. That game will tip-off at Noon ET and will be broadcast on ESPN2.