NEW YORK, March 21-At 9:27 o'clock tonight any hopes for bringing a national championship to Cambridge faded into history, as Floyd Stahl's Varsity quintet finished on the short end of a 46-38 score in the N.C.A.A. Eastern semi-final contest with Ohio State before some 18,000 cynical fans in Madison Square Garden.
Tomorrow night they will seek consolation of third place against N.Y.U., which bowed later, 57 to 49, to North Carolina.
The Crimson responded to New York crowds and commercialism with a disappointing display of first-night jitters. The superb passing and marksmanship that had enabled them to whip Yale and Quonset was transformed by the tight Buckeye defense into a sorry exhibition of wild ball-heaving. And the extra-ordinarily close arbiting of a hypercritical referee throttled the usual effective Crimson defense.
Underman Undermines Stahimen
Poor shooting was one of the two primary factors of the debacle. The other was a six-foot, six-inch center named Jack Underman, whose fine pivot work and sheer size proved too much for his federal defenders. Before he fouled out in the last quarter, the husky Sophomore ace had accounted for 14 of his team's 46 points, enough to make him high scorer of the evening. Runner-up with 12 points was his teammate, Paul Huston, while Wyndol Gray and Saul Mariaschin led the Crimson offense with 11 apiece.
Accustomed to the flashy style of Rhode Island State and the crack New York outfits, the Garden's fans seemed bored with the proceedings, as the two well-matched squads battled it out in a conservative, slow-working style of ball.
The game was touch and go until the score stood at 18-all midway in the second quarter. Then the Buckeyes took over, surging ahead to a 26-20 half-time lead which they never lost.
Bookies Lose, Too
Harvard salvaged some small solace by now beating out the 10-point edge that the bookies had assigned to State. Thousands of plungers went berserk when Huston scored what might have been the money-winning tally just a split second after the final whistle blew. Crimson loyalty thereby paid off by the narrowest of margins.