NORMAL, Ill. — The postseason couldn’t cure Texas A&M’s inability to win on the road as the Illinois State Redbirds grabbed a 62-55 victory in quarterfinal action of the 16-team Men’s College Basketball Invitational on Monday night.
ISU, 18-15, advances to the tourney semifinals, joining Fresno State, Old Dominion, Siena. Fresno State beat Princeton 72-56, ODU beat Radford 82-59 and Siena topped Penn State 54-52. Indiana State will play at Siena in the semifinals with Ole Dominion at Fresno State in Wednesday’s other semifinal.
The Aggies end at 18-16, finishing with a 1-9 record in road games.
A&M was led in scoring by sophomore forward Antwan Space and junior forward Jamal Jones with 15 and 14 points, respectively, but both had tough nights shooting. Jones was 4 of 17, including 0 of 7 in the second half, and Space was 5 of 15. Junior forward Kourtney Roberson added 11 points on 4-of-8 shooting with seven rebounds. Jones added nine rebounds but ISU held a 41-35 edge.
Illinois State was led by 6-1 junior guard Daishon Knight and 6-9 junior forward John Jones. Knight had 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting along with nine rebounds, all on the defensive end. Jones came off the bench for 12 points, hitting 5 of 7 in 14 minutes. Sophomore guard Nick Zeisloft added eight points and eight rebounds. Center Reggie Lynch blocked a team-high six shots, four more than A&M had. That moved the 6-10 center within one of the record for a freshman in the Missouri Valley Conference.
A&M led by three early in the second half, but the Redbirds strung together a free throw by Jones, a 3-pointer by Zeisloft and a 15-foot jumper by Knight to break a 44-44 tie, taking the lead for good. Lynch’s third dunk made it 58-51 with 2:19 left. Space got A&M within 58-55 with a layup with 66 seconds left, but A&M couldn’t get the rebound after a missed 3 by Zeisloft with 37 seconds left, allowing the Redbirds to close out their scoring at the free-throw line.
The Aggies had only 10 turnovers, one less than ISU, but the Redbirds had an 11-4 edge in points off turnovers along with a 15-8 edge in bench scoring. Both teams struggled on 3-pointers with ISU hitting 4 of 18, missing its first nine, while A&M was 4 of 21.