Although the Harvard men's basketball team had already played several games in the new Briggs Cage, the cagers spotted the arena's official opening ceremonies by narrowly losing to Stanford on December 21.
Officials and alumni from both schools watched a close game which Stanford won in the final minute, 81-77.
Despite the loss, Coach Frank McLaughlin was encouraged. "We probably played as well as we could," he said. "I'm pleased with [the team's] performance."
The Harvard defense forced 14 Stanford turnovers and the lead changed hands several times in the first half, but Stanford pulled away to lead by 10 points at the midway mark.
In the 'second half, the cagers fought back to make the game close, led by strong shooting from ace senior guard Calvin Dixon 21 points) and powerful rebounding from junior forward Ken Plutnicki.
With less than two minutes to go, Kevin Boyle sank a free throw to put Harvard in front, 75-74.
But moments later, a Stanford lay-up won the game for the Cardinals, as the cagers were outscored, 7-2, in the final minute.
Briggs Cage was scheduled to open at last year's Stanford game, but construction wasn't complete, so the Crimson went to Palo Alto instead, and lost. The arena could have been inaugurated at the beginning of this year, but University officials wanted to wait until the Stanford game because President Bok played for the Cardinals as an undergraduate.
Three days earlier, the hoopsters never even got close as a young Texas squad trounced them, 73-58, in Austin, Tex Harvard remained in contention through the first half and part of the second annul McLaughlin benched Dixon after his fourth foul. A Longhorn scoring spree put the game out of reach.
With the Longhorns winning big, McLaughlin rested several starters. Reserve guard David Bernard used the chance to score 11 points in his 23 minutes on the court, and may see more playing time in the future.
Tonight, the hoopsters host the rampaging Manhattan College squad, which has amassed an 8-1 record, including a victory over Penn.
Plutnicki, however, is not impressed, saying. "They've just been winning. There's nothing so great about that."