PROVIDENCE, R.I.--About a year ago, in the final game of the 1980-81 Ivy League basketball season, the Harvard men's basketball team traveled to Brown at the end of its most successful season in years. With the Crimson already assured of third place in the Ivies, the narrow loss to the Bruins didn't mean a whole lot.
But last night, with both teams in the middle of the still young, but obviously top syturvy Ivy race, the game did mean something, namely a big chunk of the league lead. And the Bruins--who lost their first 11 games of the season but who have since rebounded with wins over perennial Ivy Powers Penn and Princeton--responded to the uncustomary call of the league lead, dumping the Crimson, 69-65, at Brown's Marvel gym.
The loss drops the Crimson's Ivy mark to 2-2, tentatively putting Harvard in a tie for fourth place. Brown, meanwhile, ups its Ivy Legue record to 3-1, a fact that quite over-shadows the team's overall 3-12 mark.
Harvard and Brown sporting events aren't usually pretty affairs, and last night's men's basketball game was no exception, erupting in a fight with three minutes remaining in the second half. The shoving match produced a two-shot technical on Brown forward Ira James, and bounced the Bruins' star from the game.
The conflict briefly seemed to give the Crimson the little push it needed to finally overtake the Bruins. Down 65-58 before the fight, Harvard pulled to within two as Bob Ferry hit both technical shots, Fleming put in a 14-ft. jumper, and George White converted one of two free throws.
As in several games this year, though, Harvard got no closer. Failing to capitalize on several of the following Brown turnovers, the Bruins extended their lead to the final four-point margin.
Lacking a sure ball-handler, with the continued absence of guard Calvin Dixon, the Crimson committed 15 turnovers, including two clean one-on-one steals by Brown guard Alex Bynum, as Harvard brought the ball up the court.
Without Dixon, the trio of Donald Fleming, Bob Ferry, and Kevin Boyle did most of the ball-handling for the Crimson, and the three were constantly harassed by the quicker Brown defense., "We have good height, they have great quickness." Harvard coach Frank McLaughlin said after the game. "Their quickness won it for them tonight.
With the score knotted at 30, Bruins coach Mike Cingiser spread out his attack, giving diminutive (5ft.-7) guard Alex Bynum control of the ball.
Bynum and Bowman literally ran circles around a frustrated Harvard defense, passing up numerous chances at open shots from ten feet or less. With seconds left, the Bruins finally got the ball to Samsen at the two-second mark, and the 6-ft., 3-in, sophomore unloaded an 8-ft. jumper to put Brown up by two at the half, 32-30.
The Bruins tried to go back to the four corners later in the game, but managed the strategy less effectively, hanging onto their lead with a tough motion offense, mixing its inside and outside attack well.
For its part, the Crimson played heads up defense as well, equaling the Bruin total of six steals, and breaking up at least as many passes only to see the ball fly out of bounds. But the more aggressive Brown attack showed up in the rebounding department, as a smaller, quicker. Bruin squad out rebounded the Crimson, 33-31.