Houston, TX (Sports Network) - LaceDarius Dunn provided Baylor with 23 points and Tweety Carter added 14, as the Bears pummeled Saint Mary's, 72-49, in a one-sided South Regional semifinal of the NCAA Tournament.
Dunn and Carter combined for 27 points in a dominating opening 20 minutes, helping the third-seeded Bears (28-7) jump out to a 29-point halftime lead en route to a convincing win in their first-ever Sweet 16 appearance.
Quincy Acy chipped in 10 points, while Ekpe Udoh grabbed 11 rebounds to go with eight points for Baylor, which will face either Duke or Purdue at Reliant Stadium on Sunday for the right to advance to the Final Four next weekend.
Saint Mary's (28-6), playing in its first regional semifinal since 1959, shot just 35.2 percent from the field, including a 6-for-22 effort from behind the arc in the crushing loss. Ben Allen led the team with 16 points and seven rebounds, though the 10th-seeded Gaels were beaten on the glass, 41-29.
"We've had a great year," Saint Mary's head coach Randy Bennett said. "You just would want to you wish it would have gone different in this game. We didn't have our 'A' game tonight...and Baylor did."
Omar Samhan, who averaged 30 points in wins over seventh-seeded Richmond and second-seeded Villanova, was overmatched Friday, scoring most of his 15 points in the final 10 minutes, after the outcome had been decided.
Baylor's frontcourt of Udoh and Josh Lomers denied entry passes inside in the early going and forced Saint Mary's into a perimeter game. The Gaels failed to respond, shooting 23.3 percent in the first half to put themselves at a deficit they never overcame.
Carter hit a trio of three-pointers in the opening eight minutes, including makes on back-to-back possessions to put the Bears in front 19-7.
"We come out and just play," Carter said. "[Coach Scott Drew] allows us to come out and be ourselves. It really helps you relax and know that you can make those shots and take them with confidence, not just take them to be taking them."
Saint Mary's finally reached double digits when Allen connected on a jumper from the foul line for a 23-11 game with just under eight minutes left.
Baylor answered with 13 of the next 14 points, highlighted by Dunn's alley-oop dunk over Mickey McConnell. Dunn added two free throws to end the run, giving him 15 points and Baylor a 36-12 lead with 4:51 to go before halftime.
Carter, who had 12 points in the half, was fouled on a try from behind the arc in the closing seconds and sank all three from the foul line for a comfortable 46-17 cushion at the break. Samhan scored just three points on 1-of-8 shooting heading to the locker room.
"I got good looks and didn't make them," said a low-key Samhan. "So it wasn't our guards were not knocking down shots, it was just I didn't play well."
The Gaels turned the ball over on their first touch of the second half and missed their first three shots. A Carter bucket resulted in a 52-17 differential 2 1/2 minutes in, and the closest Saint Mary's got from there was the final score.
The Bears have beaten all double-digits seeds thus far in the tournament, having upended 14th-seeded Sam Houston State (68-59) and 11th-seeded Old Dominion (76-68) in the first two rounds...Saint Mary's made 15-of-38 from three-point range in the first two rounds of the tourney...The Gaels were attempting to break the program's single-season wins record...McConnell and Matthew Dellavedova, who combined for 29 points in the win over Villanova, went for six points apiece in the loss...Baylor made 8-of-17 from three-point range and 45.9 percent overall...Samhan also grabbed nine rebounds, while Lomers had six points and eight rebounds in the resounding win...Baylor has won eight of its last nine, with the only loss coming against Kansas in the Big 12 Tournament semifinals...Saint Mary's, the West Coast Conference champs, had its seven-game winning streak snapped.