"We've been playing really flat ever since we beat Holy Cross," said Harvard coach Frank McLaughlin. The Crimson itself might have been flattened but for two points on Saturday night.
Harvard held off Cornell's stalling tactics in Ithaca, N.Y., and struggled to a 48-46 victory and its first Ivy League triumph of the year against two losses. The overall record stands at 5-7.
The night before, the cagers dropped a convincing 85-63 decision to Columbia in New York City.
Still in Contention
The 1-2 Ivy mark leaves Harvard in Ivy League contention as the squad strides into a 19-day break for exams.
Defending champ Penn leads the league with a perfect 3-0 record and Columbia, at 2-0, holds second. Princeton is 2-1, and all the remaining teams have two losses.
"I've said all season that the key to the league is who wins on the road," McLaughlin said, giving an optimistic view of his team's outlook. "We haven't had a team here yet. The Yale game will be very important."
Both Harvard and Yale stand at 1-2 and the Crimson will reopen its season in New Haven, Conn., Hanuary 29. "If we can win that one," said the coach, "we'll get everybody coming to our place."
In the loss to Columbia, the Crimson again missed the offensive punch of sophomore swingman Don Fleming, the team's leading scorer, who managed only six points. Twelve team turnovers with a little over a quarter of play elapsed didn't help, either.
Once the Ivy League's leading scorer, Fleming has hit a dry spell lately. "He thinks he's letting the team down," said McLaughlin, "so he's pressing even more."
Junior Mark Harris led the team with 19 points, his best total this year, and Tom Mannix followed with 12, but neither man made up for a Lion attack that featured Curt Maloney's 25 points.
The victory over Cornell--"not an artistic success," according to captain Bob Allen--came after the Big Red lost in double overtime to Dartmouth the night before and after McLaughlin juggled the starting lineup for the first time this season.
Tom Clark went in for Fleming, and freshman guard Calvin Dixon subbed for Robert Taylor, who has also been struggling.
The two benched starters responded with team-leading scoring performances. Fleming topped the team with 15 and Taylor, who McLaughlin said "played very, very well," finished with ten points.
Down by two points, Cornell went into a stall with six minutes remaining and didn't take a shot for three-and-a-half minutes. It missed. Harvard collected the rebound and held onto it for the rest of the game to seal the victory.
THE NOTEBOOK: McLaughlin likes Ithaca. In his three years at the Crimson helm, Harvard has never lost there... The team has two games on the road before it finally starts the home section of its season. After Yale on January 29, the Crimson goes to Dartmouth on February 5. Princeton, Penn, Cornell and Columbia then file into the IAB one after another.