ORLANDO, Florida (AP) -- Justin Bassey scored 16 points and Harvard made all 22 of its free throws en route to a 62-51 victory over cold-shooting Texas A&M in the first round of the of the Orlando Invitational on Thursday.
The Crimson (5-2) advanced to the semifinals of the eight-team tournament at Disney World and will face No. 5 Maryland, a 76-69 opening-day winner over Temple.
Bassey paced a balanced scoring attack, making five of seven shots on an afternoon when Harvard was 6 of 29 from behind the 3-point line and shot 32% overall. Bryce Aiken had 15 points and Chris Lewis and Rio Haskett added 10 apiece.
Texas A&M (3-2) missed 15 of its first 16 shots, but only trailed 22-18 at halftime because of Harvard’s own poor marksmanship. The Aggies led briefly before fading down the stretch, with Crimson doing most of its damage from the foul line, where Harvard made eight during a 13-7 surge that put the Crimson up 58-46 with two minutes left.
Wendell Mitchell led Texas A&M with 17 points. Savion Flagg had 12 points and Josh Nebo added 10, while leading scorer Jay Jay Chandler was slowed by foul trouble and finished with six points in just under 22 minutes.
Harvard: Robert Baker scored just two points on 1-of-6 shooting, however the 6-foot-11 senior forward had 13 rebounds for the Crimson, who forced 16 turnovers while also outrebounding the Aggies 40-30.
Texas A&M: Lost for the second time in five games under coach Buzz Williams, who’s in his first season leading the Aggies program after successful stints at Marquette and Virginia Tech. It was Texas A&M first road game of the year.
Harvard: Plays No. 5 Maryland (6-0) in Friday’s semifinals while the Aggies face Temple Friday at 12:30 p.m. in the second round of the Orlando Invitational.
Texas A&M Postgame Notes and Quotes:
· Texas A&M fell to 3-2 on the season following its 62-51 loss to Harvard in the first round of the Orlando Invitational Thursday.
· The Aggies are now 0-1 all-time against the Crimson.
· The Aggies forced 11 steals, the most in a game this season.
· Texas A&M’s five made three-point field goals matched their season high.
· Harvard shot 20.7% (6-for-29) from beyond the arc, marking the lowest three-point field goal percentage by an opposing team this season.
· Chuck Mitchell led the team in scoring for the second time this season as he recorded 17 points, a season high.
· Mitchell was a force on the defensive end as he matched his career high in steals with five.
· Josh Nebo scored 10 points for the third consecutive game. He now leads the team in scoring at 10.5 points per game.
· Nebo swatted three shots, and has had three-or-more blocks in three of the four games he’s played in. The three blocks move his career total to 227, which is the highest among all active players in Division I.
· Quenton Jackson tied his season high in rebounds with six.
· Savion Flagg finished with 12 points, which was second highest on the team. He has scored 10-or-more points twice this season and 24th times in his career.
· Buzz Williams is 3-2 in his first season at Texas A&M and 256-157 in his 13 seasons as a head coach.
Texas A&M Quotes
Head Coach Buzz Williams
On today’s game…
“I’m encouraged, not by the result, I’m encouraged by the process that led to the result. That’s the best we’ve played all year. I feel completely different in regards to how hard they’re trying relative to what we’re asking them to do. In truth, we have a negative margin when the game starts. They’re (Harvard) 17th in the country in blocked shots, and they only had two. That means we were really good. We’re not taking shots that we don’t need to take. We held them to 32 percent from the field, which is elite; 20 percent from three, which is better than elite. It was the lowest offensive rebound percentage we’ve had. We’re not there yet. Somehow, we’ve got to buy a few seconds in the pace of the game where our offense helps our defense. If it gets going fast, it doesn’t mean we’re not good, it means we can’t sustain it over the course of 200 minutes.”