MILWAUKEE – Closing the season in the first round of the National Invitation Tournament (NIT), second-seeded Marquette held off a second-half charge from seventh-seeded Harvard men's basketball, 67-60, on Wednesday night at the Al McGuire Center.
Sophomore Justin Bassey had a career night against the Eagles, scoring a career-best 19 points with a career-high 12 rebounds, five assists and four steals. Junior Corey Johnson was also in double-figures, finishing with 10. The Harvard defense held Marquette to its third-lowest offensive output this season, forcing 11 steals.
Playing with four quarters, rather than two halves, the Crimson trailed by five after one period, 14-9 in a defensive battle. The low scoring affair continued in the second, as the Eagles left for intermission with a 27-21 lead. The Crimson opened the second quarter on a 7-0 run, taking its first lead of the game after buckets from junior Weisner Perez, Johnson and sophomore Chris Lewis.
Marquette opened up an 18-point lead in the third quarter, 46-28, but Harvard battled back to cut the margin to 12 after three quarters. Bassey, Lewis and Johnson each scored to close the run. The Eagles responded with a run at the start of the fourth quarter, extending the lead once again to 18 with 7:21 to go.
Bassey sparked the Crimson with a 13-point fourth quarter, starting a run with a 3-pointer and continuing with a pair of dunks. Harvard cut the deficit to single-digits after a three from freshman Rio Haskett, and after forcing multiple Marquette turnovers, Harvard was able to get within five, 65-60, but the Crimson comeback ultimately ran out of time
- Bassey led the Crimson with career-highs of 19 points and 12 rebounds, while matching a career-best with four steals.
- Harvard won the battle of the boards, outrebounding Marquette 35-28 with 13 offensive rebounds.
- Johnson finished in double figures with 10 points to go with four rebounds and three assists.
- Harvard was playing its first matchup in program history with Marquette.
- The NIT berth was the second in program history, as Harvard faced Oklahoma State in 2011.
- The Crimson played in a postseason tournament for the seventh time in program history, with each coming in the past nine years under head coach Tommy Amaker.
Harvard ends the 2017-18 campaign with an 18-14 record, and won its sixth Ivy League title with a 12-2 conference mark.