- Associated Press - Tuesday, March 4, 2014

WACO, Texas (AP) - Big 12 scoring leader Melvin Ejim struggled with his shot all game, and Georges Niang was ineffective for No. 16 Iowa State after getting called for two quick fouls.

Even without much help from two of their top scorers, the Cyclones managed to keep things close at Baylor - until a miserable closing stretch.

Brady Heslip scored 18 points, with all five of his 3-pointers coming in the second half, and Baylor’s NCAA tournament hopes got a much-needed boost with a 74-61 victory over the Cyclones on Tuesday night. His tiebreaking 3 with 2:14 left started a game-ending 13-0 run.

“They switched back to their zone defense, and we didn’t make shots there in that last 4-minute stretch,” Iowa State coach Fred Hoiberg said. “We gave ourselves an opportunity to win. … We have not had too many games where turnovers have hurt us. I thought tonight they did. It’s just unfortunate, but we didn’t make the plays down the stretch.”

Iowa State (22-7, 10-7 Big 12), in the mix for the No. 2 seed in next week’s Big 12 tournament, lost its second road game in four days.

The Cyclones, who lost at Kansas State on Saturday, were held under 70 points for the first time this season. They didn’t score after DeAndre Kane’s wide-open 3 tied the game at 61 with 4:10 left, their 12th 3-pointer in the game but only the second after halftime.

Kane finished with 20 points, but that was his only basket after halftime.

Ejim’s six points were 13 below his average while he made only 3 of 14 shots and missed all five 3-point tries. He did have nine rebounds.

“We’ll be fine. Hey, we lost two road games in the Big 12 Conference,” Hoiberg said. “We’re not the only team that that’s happened to. “

There were 15 lead changes and four ties before Heslip put Baylor (20-10, 8-9) ahead to stay.

And his final regular-season game at the Ferrell Center may just be the victory that helps get the Bears back into the NCAA tournament.

“You guys don’t know how happy I am right now. All I wanted to do was win. I just wanted to leave everything out there so we could win,” Heslip said. “This was the best feeling I’ve felt in this gym, no question.”

The Bears have won seven of eight games since starting 2-8 in Big 12 play.

“Absolutely. No question,” Baylor coach Scott Drew said, when asked if his team is an NCAA tournament team.

The Bears last season had to settle for winning the NIT championship, a year after making it to an NCAA regional final for the second time in three years.

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