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Baylor Comes Up Short Against No. 1 Oklahoma, 4-3
Monday, 04/27/2015
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Bears unable to get past top-ranked Sooners in Big 12 title match.

Baylor University Team Page

WACO, Texas - The second-ranked Baylor men's tennis team rallied from a 3-0 deficit to tie the Big 12 Championship title match 3-3, before dropping a 4-3 decision versus No. 1 Oklahoma Sunday at the Hurd Tennis Center.

The Bears (21-5) and Sooners (24-2) were playing for the fourth time in 2015 and the fourth-straight year in the Big 12 Championship finale. Baylor has now come up on the short end of every match to the Sooners this year and suffered three losses in the last four Big 12 title matches.

As it did when the two teams played in the regular season on April 10 in Waco, Sunday's match wasn't decided until the final singles match.

Playing at the No. 6 spot, Baylor's Felipe Rios and Oklahoma's Florin Bragusi were locked in a third set to determine the Big 12 champion.

Rios had lost the first set 6-4, but rallied to pull off a 7-6(6) win in the second to set the stage for the deciding set. When the attention turned to court six, Rios had just broken Bragusi to go up 3-2 in the third set. However, he would lose four of the next five games to the OU sophomore to drop the set, 6-4.

In a match that lasted over five and half hours and included two lightning delays, there was plenty of drama before Rios' loss.

The Sooners handed the Bears only their second loss in the opening point on the year.

Baylor's 18th-ranked duo of Julian Lenz and Diego Galeano rolled to a 6-1 victory over No. 69 Andrew Harris and Alex Ghilea on court one to open the match.

However, Oklahoma quickly got back into the point with a 6-4 triumph by Jose Salazar and Axel Alvarez at the No. 3 spot over Vince Schneider and Rios.

Less than five minutes later, the 63rd-ranked pairing of Mate Zsiga and Tony Lupieri fell to Dane Webb and Spencer Papa, 6-3, on court two to give OU the early lead.

The weather got in the way of the Sooners carrying the advantage over to singles play as the break between doubles and singles was one hour and 27 minutes due to lightning in the area.

When play did resume, Baylor fell behind early and looked close to losing four of six first sets. The weather got in the way again as lightning forced the postponement of singles play for 41 minutes.

The Bears capitalized on the second delay to turn the momentum in a couple matches with Max Tchoutakian and Mate Zsiga both clinching first sets in tiebreakers to earn a 3-3 split with the Sooners in first sets.

However, OU was first to turn its first-set wins into singles victories. First, for the second time in less than a month No. 1 ranked Julian Lenz lost to No. 2 Axel Alvarez, 6-1, 6-4 on court one.

On court two, the Sooners built a 3-0 lead with No. 33 Tony Lupieri falling to fifth-ranked Andrew Harris, 6-4, 6-4.

With their backs against the wall, the Bears started to rally. The 74th-ranked Max Tchoutakian used the momentum from his first-set tiebreaker to upset the 35th-ranked Webb, 7-6(3), 6-3 on court three.

Senior Diego Galeano then pulled BU to within 3-2 as he polished off the 84th-ranked Ghilea, 6-4, 7-5 at the No. 4 spot.

At that point, the 110th-ranked Zsiga was early in a third set against Spencer Papa on court five, after he had taken the first 7-6(5) and Papa responded with a 6-2 win the second. The senior cruised to the third-set win, 6-2, to tie the match 3-3 and turn the attention to court 6.

Keep up with the Bears all season long by following @BaylorMTennis on Twitter.

NOTABLES
• Baylor is 35-11 all-time in Big 12 Championship play.
• Baylor played in its fourth consecutive conference championship final and 14th overall.
• Baylor is 8-6 in its 14 trips to the Big 12 Championship finale. 
• Baylor fell to 18-5 against ranked teams. 
• Baylor now trails the all-time series to OU, 24-20, but still leads 19-11 in the Matt Knoll era.
• Baylor has lost 10 of the last 12 in the series. 
• Sunday's match was the third time the Hurd Tennis Center had hosted a No. 1 versus No. 2 match.
• Baylor is now 4-4 in matches when hosting the Big 12 Championships. 
• Baylor's only other loss in the doubles point was to Oklahoma on March 22 in Indian Wells, Calif.
• Baylor fell to 23-2 in the doubles point. 
• Baylor is 3-3 in the 4-3 matches this year.

TOP QUOTE #1
"We didn't really show out at every spot. In general we have done that this season. This season that has been one of our strengths, and we didn't today. Against a team at this level that's going to make it tough for you. It was good for us and great for us. Great experience, we got pushed everywhere, I think we will be better for it. We've got to take a few weeks now before the NCAA tournament and get back to work on some fundamentals and clean some things up and I think we will be better." - Head coach Matt Knoll on the match

TOP QUOTE #2
"We had played them three times before today and we hadn't beaten (Dane) Webb, and we hadn't beaten (Alex) Ghilea. We beat two of the guys we hadn't beaten and I thought that was a step in the right direction. We won a lot of tiebreakers. I think we competed well. Three tiebreakers we contested and we won all three of them, and I think that showed a lot of grit and a lot of toughness from our guys. Down the stretch we didn't play as fundamentally sound as we needed to and we didn't show out in a couple spots, and that's kind of the story." - Knoll on facing Oklahoma in the final

WHAT'S NEXT
The Bears will gather for an NCAA Selection Show watch party on Tuesday. The men's selection show is at 4:30 p.m. CT and streamed on NCAA.com. 


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