The ball sailed high, nearly rearranging the dust on an ancient IAB rafter, then fluttered down quickly--one Kirkland House junior will long remember exactly how it was.
Both the Harvard and Brown basketball teams were plotting strategy in their respective locker rooms at the time, so they could only guess what had happened during their half-time absence.
For three years, a Boston travel agency has sponsored a contest that gave three people--their names picked from a box--a chance to win a three-day trip for two to Bermuda by hitting a shot from half court during Harvard basketball intermissions. Over the years many have come agonizingly close, but none have actually nailed that Hoop for the Holiday.
But last night Steve Larkin, a former high school basketball player from Dedham, earned a prolonged study-break and a standing ovation from the crowd of 300, when he lofted in the 45-footer at 8:05 p.m.
"I told my roommates that if I get the chance, it's in," a jubilant Larkin said afterward. The now very, very popular junior said he had not yet decided on a companion for the journey.
Then, perhaps inspired by the schoolmate's good fortune, the Harvard basketball team recovered from a shaky first half and defeated the Bruins, 69-65, for the Crimson's most important victory of the young season.
Aided by six straight clutch free throws by sophomore guard Calvin Dixon and 26 points by freshman Joe Carrabino, the cagers slip-slided to victory over a team that had twice conquered them last year.
Not only will Harvard remain in first place in the Ivy League, at least until January 30 (its second Ivy encounter), but the team proved last night that it can survive an off night against a moderately talented team and still come away with a victory.
And perhaps more importantly, the team might have found itself a new leader in the 6-ft. 8-in. Carrabino. The brawny Californian took charge several times in the game--once hitting ten straight Harvard points--and now appears to be the man the Crimson will look to when the need a basket.
Scoring nine of the Crimson's last 17 points (mostly on soft 12-ft. jumpers), Carrabino went ten for 13 from the floor and six for eight from the line--indicating that, with more confidence, he should be shooting more in the future.
After a lackadaisical first half, which ended with Brown up, 30-26, Harvard plodded along--shooting poorly, rebounding casually and sleepwalking mostly--until they finally tied it at 42. Even though Brown's foul troubled deepened (the Bruins had seven free throws to the Crimson's 32), Harvard couldn't break it open and, in fact, checked in on the critical list, down 57-53, with 4:49 left.
But then Carrabino got hot from the field, Dixon cool at the line, and the cagers, now 5-4 overall, salvaged their first big win of the year.
THE NOTEBOOK: Joe Mullaney's Bruins are now 2-8, after a grueling pre-Ivy schedule.
Harvard 69, Brown 65 at the IAB
Brown--Chapman 1 3-3 5; Erickson 5 0-0 10; McCarthy 8 4-4 20; Samson 5 0-0 10; Stanley 3 0-0 6; James 4 0-0 8; Total 29-64, 7-7 65.
Harvard--Harris 1 3-4 5; Fleming 3 5-5 11; Carrabino 10 6-8 26; Dixon 0 7-8 7; Mannix 5 0-0 10; Tout 2 6-7 10; Total 21-47, 27-32 69.
Half-time score: Brown, 30-26. Attendance: 300.