Like an updated--and much taller--version of Horatio Alger, the Harvard basketball team pulled itself into the respectable middle class of the Ivy League this weekend, adding an upset 81-71 victory over Columbia Saturday night to its overtime triumph over Cornell the night before.
The Crimson is now riding a three-game winning streak which has left it tied with Columbia for fourth place in the League with a 4-5 record. The hoopsters overall mark stands at 9-12.
Unlike the triumph over lowly Cornell, Harvard defeated the Lions by playing an excellent game, certainly its best of the season before the home court fans, a sparse but enthusiastic gathering of 800.
Young and Innocent
Columbia started four freshmen, and its junior center, winner of the Ivy League Name of the Year Award, Vernon Outlaw. The Lions demonstrated the inexperience early and often as they did more travelling than Bob McAdoo has done in the past three seasons. Their 15 turnovers were largely responsible for Harvard's 41-38 lead at halftime.
That lead would have been six had not the six-ft. ten-in. Outlaw taken advantage of Harvard's major weakness all night long--shoddy rebounding--and hit a tip-in three-point-play at the buzzer.
Neither team could assert control for most of the third quarter, but the little things let on that Harvard would not blow this chance for an upset. Little things like six-ft. five-in. Mark Harris, who boxed out Outlaw all night, having the guts to draw an offensive foul early in the third quarter just ten seconds after he got called for his third personal. Little things like Don Fleming's rejuvenated shooting touch which made him the game's top scorer with 22 points on 8-13 shooting.
And a big thing like the return of captain Bob Allen. Coach Frank McLaughlin said after the game, "The real key is Bobby Allen; he's playing like the old Bobby Allen." That means Allen is helping out under the boards, shooting with a sizzling hand, and, most importantly, acting like the floor leader a captain should be.
Modified Stall Sequence
But as the game neared the three-quarter mark, Columbia had moved to its biggest lead of the half, 63-58, and had moved into a modified stall which ate up nearly two minutes.
Then, in the space of less than 20 seconds, Harris and Tom Mannix made good on rebounds of their own shots to cut the deficit to one. Columbia called time out, but couldn't stop Fleming's superb tip-in of a Robert Taylor shot that put the cagers ahead, 66-65, with 5:05 to play.
From then on it was all Harvard. A 22-ft. Mannix bomb put Harvard ahead to stay with 2:44 left, and Fleming pretty well put the seal on it when his drive put the hoopsters up, 72-67, with just 1:28 remaining, and the IAB crowd going wild.
A three-point-play by the Lions' Richie Gordie gave Harvard a brief scare in the final minute, but Harris and Fleming both converted one-and-one plays from the foul line to put it out of reach.
File under the Good Signs for the Future Dept.: The J.V., which coach Bill Raynor describes as having "a lot of character," has cruised to a 10-2 record this winter, with Dave Durham and George White leading a balanced attack. THE NOTEBOOK: Bob Allen, talking after the game about the IAB fans: "We have good fans, we just don't have a lot of them."... You could tell how badly McLaughlin wanted to win this one. Earlier this season, when Columbia blew Harvard out, 85-63, the Lions' bench warmers were making fun of the visiting Crimson. They weren't Saturday night.