There's an old saying in college basketball circles that goes something like this: "If you shoot 36-per-cent from the field, you're going to have trouble beating a B team from the local nursery school."
Coming off a 29-per-cent field goal average in the first half, Harvard finished with its imitation of a petrified forest en route to a 74--62 loss to the Boston College Eagles in the opening game of the Fourth Annual Colonial Classic last night in the Boston Garden.
The game was not so close as the final score indicated.
Following a devastating overtime loss to Georgetown earlier in the week, B.C. looked anything but sharp last night. However, the Crimson cagers continued to meet with failure in their shooting touch and, as a result, handed the Chestnut Hill gang a sloppy win in what started out as a reasonably interesting basketball game.
Penetrating a loose B.C. zone and boxing out a tentative Eagle offense, Harvard opened a quick 6--2 lead when Mark Harris faked the shorts off former Crimson center Joe Beaulieu and layed the ball in for a pair.
Soon after, though, captain Bob Allen picked up a pair of quick fouls, and the decline and fall of the Harvard effort began. Allen ended up spending most of the night on the bench with constant foul troubles. He was not the only one who was less than enthusiastic about Harvard's first appearance in the Classic.
Five-and-a-half minutes into the game, Don Fleming laid in what looked like the start of a perfect three-point play, soaring past the outstretched arms of B.C.'s Bernie Adams. But while referee Roscoe Baker signaled a field goal and a blocking goal foul, Art Mallace, from the top of the key, ruled the hoop no good and called a charge on Fleming. Mallace's version of the play prevailed.
Crimson coach Frank McLaughlin soared somewhere into the upper deck while simultaneously calling time out and began his night-long feud with the men in the striped shirts. So the downhill Harvard race continued.
In a half that lumbered its way to a 36--24 finish, B.C. took the lead in stop-and-go, foul-line-to-foul-line lack-of-action basketball as the officials did more work than the players. And the crowd--scattered sparsely throughout the cavernous arena--snored away.
Only Harvard's Calvin Dixon could come up with a bit of scintillating basketball midway through the period. Displaying his usual wealth of flashy ball handling, Dixon electrified the Garden by taking a fastbreak down the lane and dumping it behind his back to Mark Harris, who laid the ball in for a 13--12 Harvard lead. The Eagles just stood in awe.
B.C. remained sufficiently sloppy through the first 12 minutes to allow Harvard to stage a see-saw battle. But with eight minutes remaining before intermission, atrophy set in and paralyzed the Crimson charges. From there on, it was all B.C.
"We just didn't shoot well," McLanghlin said after the game, seeming somewhat frustrated with the glaring weakness in the Harvard attack. "Shooting is the key to our game, and we're just in a real slump shooting-wise right now."
Though Harvard managed a 43-per-cent average in the second half, the respectable figure came only because the Crimson got a string of baskets in the closing minutes against a group of B.C. subs.
While Harvard stood and watched during the second half, Dr. Tom David team worked a controlled offense quarterbacked by Dwan Chandler and powered by guard Mike Bennett. Bennett, who struggled through a dismal 2--6 first half, exploded to hit 7--8 from the floor in the second stanza and finished with game-high 21 points.
The Eagles' game-long full court trap press did little to bother the Crimson. But without a hot hand from the outside, Harvard could not penetrate the zone of the much taller B.C. squad, and the Crimson watched its errant aerials fall into the waiting arms of Eagle rebounders.
Fleming led the Crimson scoring with 16, but those points came on a dismal 6--17 evening from the floor. The usually accurate Tom Mannix suffered through a 5--12 evening. Both he and Harris wound up with 14 points.