Just as Harvard's basketball team was about to go down for the third time, a full-court press, some flawless foul shooting, and a brilliant sophomore named Jeff Grate rescued the quintet and gave them a 75-71 victory over Boston University last night.
Grate must be the tallest 6-1 man in the country. He has fantastic jumping ability and can dunk the ball without straining. Last night his shooting, driving, and overall hustle were just as impressive: Grate scored 23 points, with seven-for-ten from the foul line.
The first 10 minutes of last night's game, while Grate was sitting on the bench, contained some of the worst all-around play in the long, ignominious history of Harvard basketball. The Crimson sank a grand total of two field goals; only B.U.'s ineptitude kept the score as low as 16-6.
B.U. extended its margin to 20-11 with 6:41 left in the half; then Grate came into the game and Harvard switched to its press. It thoroughly discombobulated the Terriers, forcing them to foul and commit numerous ball-handling errors.
Harvard reeled off 10 straight points. Grate sank three foul shots, and Gene Dressler hit a jumper from the corner. Then Grate stole the ball, leaped above the basket, and dropped the ball over his right shoulder into the hoop. His foul shot made the score 20-19 and successful drive by Keith Sedlacek put Harvard in front for the first time. The Crimson led at halftime, 33 to 28, and never relinquished the lead.
Throughout the contest, Harvard's shooting was dreadful. The Crimson sank only 21 of 69 shots. The baskets seemed live, and dozens of shots which looked good rolled around and spun out. B.U., however, sank an excellent 53 per cent of its shots.
It was Harvard's foul shooting that made the difference. The Crimson was 33-for-39, and missed only one of 21 shots in the second half. The Terriers got only 15 foul shots, and missed 10 of them.
Harvard rolled up a big lead early in the second half. Grate scored nine points in seven minutes; the Crimson built up a 57-42 advantage and looked as if it could coast for the rest of the way. With 3:06 to play, Harvard's lead was still a comfortable 71-61.
But then the Crimson's zone defense began to wilt, B.U.'s Steve Pugatch (who had 25 points for the night) drove in for a hook shot, Randy Robinson scored on a drive, and Larry Gluck swished a 25-foot bomb, John Scott sank two foul shots for Harvard, but B.U. came right back with two quick baskets. Harvard led, 73 to 71, with 13 seconds on the clock.
Gene Dressler threw the ball into Grate, who had the ball stolen by Ken Ackerman. The B.U. guard fired the ball to 6-7 John Osgood underneath the basket. But Harvard's George Neville alertly knocked the ball out of Osgood's hands; it bounced off his foot and out of bounds. That gave Harvard possession, and sewed up the victory.
After Grate, Sedlacek was Harvard's leading scorer with 16 points. Dressler had 15 and Scott 12. Barry Williams snared 16 rebounds for the Crimson