Something intangible separates Stanford from the Ivy League, something in addition to 3000 miles and year-round sun and fun.
But last night, as the Harvard men's basketball team took on its cross-continent rivals in front of a season-high 2000 fans at Briggs Athletic Center, all that separated the Cardinal and the Crimson was 16 points.
Stanford (now 6-1), relying on an up-tempo running game and swarming full court press, jumped to an early lead and held on for a 78-62 victory over Harvard (now 2-5).
In your face, Ivy League.
Paced by freshman sensation Todd Lichti who pumped in 20 points, the visitors--fresh off a 129-108 bom-bardment of Ivy power Yale Saturday--took a commanding lead early on the strength of 19-for-28 shooting from the field in the first half.
"We looked like we were going to blow them out the first half," Stanford Coach Tom Davis noted, "but Harvard wouldn't let us."
The Crimson cut a sometime 17-point Cardinal lead to nine at the half, and then managed to draw within five early in the second period.
"They play a tempo-type game, create turnovers, try to make people play under duress," Harvard Coach Pete Roby said after the contest.
"At the start we knew that they did their thing better than we did ours. My feeling going into the game was that I wanted to give my guys a chance to win, and if it was 70-52 at halftime [the lead Stanford had over Yale at the half] we weren't going to have a shot," he added.
"But we did. We cut it to seven, we cut it to five..."
Beyond five, however, the Crimson could not cut.
Because no sooner did the cagers begin to draw uncomfortably close, than the visitors began to regroup.
With the score standing at 43-38 and 13 minutes remaining on the clock, Stanford strung together seven uncontested points. And from that point on, five players chipped in with at least six points for the Cardinal cause: Lichti (six points), Earl Koberlein (six), Greg Butler (six), Howard Wright (eight) and Steve Brown (10).
The combination of Stanford solidarity and less-than-stellar Harvard shooting--the cagers hit 12 of 28 field goal attempts in the final half--spelled doom for the hosts.
However, in the face of the cagers' fourth loss in their last five contests--the lone triumph since Thanksgiving break a 86-50 drubbing of a clueless MIT squad last Tuesday--Harvard did manage to salvage a glimmer of hope for the future.
In previous contests, Roby has often been forced to count on top performances from the bench. Non-starters had contributed over 42 percent of the Crimson scoring going into last night's game.
But last night, the starting five saw more action than they had in a long time.
"They deserved it," Roby said of his starters.
And leading the way for the Crimson was sophomore center Bill Mohler, who topped the squad with a career-high 16 points in easily his best game as a collegiate.
The 6-ft., 8-in. big man had been struggling, averaging just 5.0 points per game, but went wild last night, going four-for-four from the charity stripe and six-for-10 from the floor--including a spectacular, late-first-half sky hook.
"At the beginning of the season, we knew Billy had the potential to be a major college player," Roby said.
"Confidence is a real fragile thing," he added. "If someone's in a slump, you play with them, play with them all the way."
But while Mohler shone, several of his fellow starters were having off nights. Guard Keith Webster--usually the cagers' most consistent player--hit on only four of his 13 floor attempts, and forward Kyle Dodson went two-for-five from both the field and the free throw line.
Meanwhile, freshman Fred Schernecker continued to spark Harvard off the bench, contributing six points.
THE NOTEBOOK: A roast for former Crimson Coach Frank McLaughlin followed last night's contest as a fundraiser for the Friends of Harvard Basketball...The cagers host St. Michael's tomorrow night at 7:30 p.m....After hitting double figures in the Crimson's first five games, freshman starting forward Neil Phillips has finished with eight in the past two games...Brown, second on the Stanford squad with 15 points, had 20 in the last meeting of the two teams. In that game, which took place December 19, 1983 in Palo Alto, Calif., the Cardinal dumped the Crimson, 79-66.