When 1-for-2 is Better Than 50 Percent

The Basketball Notebook

As we approach the final weekend of the season, the Ivy League men's basketball race is one of the closest in years. Three teams--Cornell (9-3), Brown (8-4), and Penn (6-5)--still have mathematical shots at the crown, even though it would take a miracle for the Quakers to snare their second title in a row.

Even more amazing, seven of the eight league teams are within four games of the top. Dartmouth, the league's seventh-place squad, sports a respectable 5-7 Ivy mark.

Only Harvard, 2-10 in league play (6-18 overall), is significantly off the pace.

The Crimson hosts Yale and Brown this weekend, as the forgettable 1985-'86 season winds to a close. The Bruins, who invade Briggs Athletic Center Friday night, will be looking to keep alive their chances for a first-ever Ivy title.

Brown is led by the Ivy League's leading scorer, Jim Turner, who is averaging 18.6 points per game and 8.0 rebounds (second in the league). In the first Crimson-Bruins meeting, at Marvel Gym, Turner scored 20 points (on 9-for-11 shooting from the field) as Brown cruised to a 67-48 victory.

In the first Harvard-Yale match-up, the Crimson managed to contain Eli center Chris Dudley to only 11 points and 11 rebounds in 35 minutes of action, but dropped a 54-45 decision at Payne Whitney Gymnasium. Dudley is currently the league's leading rebounder (8.6 r.p.g.) and third-leading scorer (15.9 p.p.g.)

Harvard needs to win at least one of its games this weekend to avoid its first 20-loss season since the 1978-'79 season, its lowest win total since 1962-'63, and its lowest winning percentage since 1951-'52. *  *  *

Notes from this weekend's games:

Last Friday at Columbia, freshman forward Fred Schernecker led the squad in scoring in the cagers' 73-54 loss to the Lions. Schernecker was credited with 13 points, but actually netted 15 in the losing effort.

All of Schernecker's points came in bunches, as he went on personal scoring runs of six, four and five points.

But several other Crimson big men had bad nights. Bill Mohler and David Wolkoff each went 0-for-4 from the field, and Mohler, the starting center, logged only 16 points while being plagued with foul trouble.

Neil Phillips was a one-man offensive machine for Harvard in the opening 20 minutes the following night at Cornell, scoring 10 of the squad's 16 first-half points. And although the Big Red defense shut the freshman down in the second period, Phillips' 10-point effort was still good enough to lead the squad in its most dismal offensive showing of the season.

The contest, held at Ithaca's Barton Hall, began at 6:30 p.m. to accomodate fans wishing to attend the Cornell-Yale hockey game later that evening. Five thousand spectators attended the early start, the largest audience to watch the Crimson in a league contest this year.   *  *  *

Forward Phillips and guard Keith Webster each had trick-or-treat weekends and remained in a tight race for the team's scoring title. Phillips posted a career-low two points against the Lions but came back with 10 the following night.

Webster, meanwhile, scored 10 against Columbia but was shut out the following night. Phillips has 264 points in 24 games this year (11.0 p.p.g.) while Webster trails close behind with 259. No other cager is within 100 points of the two.

The hosts scored first in both games last weekend on their ways to victory, leaving the Crimson 1-15 in games in which its opponents have drawn first blood. Harvard is 5-3 when it scores the opening bucket.