Responding to the exhortations of some 1600 rabid rooters who overflowed Cousens Gymnasium, the Tufts basketball team came perilously close to defeating the Crimson Saturday night, as they held the once-defeated Stahlmen to a hard-earned 67 to 65 victory.
Once again it was Wyndol Gray who sparked the Crimson drive. Despite a physical battering by the hard-driving Jumbos which resulted in a gift of 14 free throws, the slim Ohio stylist passed and dribbled the team to its second and equally close triumph over the Medford team. By his spectacular sharpshooting, he also surpassed his previous scoring record of 25 points with a total of 28 markers, 12 of them from the foul line; he averaged one point per minute throughout the first half.
Tufts Pulla Ahead
Trailing by four points at the midway mark, Coach Dick Corchoran's fast-breaking quintet took just three minutes to pull ahead of the Crimson, Walt McCurdy's basket making the score 47 to 46. They kept their lead--ranging from one to five point's margin--until the last two minutes of play, when a tap-in by Lew Decsi plus two foul shots and one field goal by Gray put the Cantabs back into the game; then the former Bowling Green ace put on a one-man freezing act to put the game on ice.
The game was actually won at the foul-line, however, as the Crimson converted 19 out of 26 free throws while the Jumbos sank 13 of 24. Otherwise, Tufts held a slight edge in marksmanship from the floor. Left forward Bob Burbacher was high scorer for the losers with 20 points, while his more publicized teammate and captain, Bob Skarda, was second with 19. Key man in their offense, however, was lanky Ken Barnhart, despite his low scoring total of only 4 points.
Gray's high score was supplemented by Decsi's 16 markers, Saul Mariaschin's 12, and Paul Champion's 10; the latter, incidentally, was moved from his regular guard position by Coach Stahl to replace John Gantt at right forward half way through the second period, while Jack Clark took over Champion's place at guard.
The Jayvee game which opened Saturday's program was almost as close as the Varsity contest; the score was even closer. Coach Al McCoy's charges just managed to stave off a last-minutes Jumbo drive to win their second game of the season by a score of 47 to 46.
Tomorrow night at 8:15 in the Indoor Athletic Building the Varsity will face Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the first of a home-and-home series; the Stahlmen will be seeking revenge for their 53 to 45 defeat at the hands of the Engineers during the '44-45 season. All that is known about Worcester Tech this year is that they lost to Tufts by the moderate score of 84 to 59!