PHILADELPHIA--The Palestra in Philadelphia is a Mecca for basketball enthusiasts, and the ancient snakepit seems to inspire the Harvard basketball team, only to snatch success away in the waning moments of a game. On Saturday night the pattern was repeated as Harvard lost to Penn, 55-53, in the last second of play.
Over the vacation, during the ECAC Quaker City Tournament, the Crimson five dropped a one-point decision to St. Bonaventure and a two-point squeaker to Temple in the very same Palestra.
Junior guard John Beecroft is a native of the City of Brotherly Love and his shot in the last second lifted Penn to victory and dropped Harvard's overall record to 3-9. Penn is now 3-0 in the Ivy League.
With eight seconds to play and the score tied at 53-53, Beecroft tipped the ball on a center jump to Penn's 6 ft. 11 in. center Henry Johnson. Johnson shot from the corner, the ball bounced off the rim and into the hands of Beecroft in the key.
Beecroft's running one-hander fell through the net with one second left on the clock.
Harvard played inspired and disciplined basketball throughout the game. Beecroft's heroics negated Lou Silver's 25 point, 12-rebound effort. Silver led the scoring for Harvard.
Ken Wolfe added 11 points and Tony Jenkins contributed eight points, all in the first half. Jenkins, plagued by foul trouble that sent him to the bench in the second half, returned to play the last 2:57.
The Quaker's pro prospect, junior forward Ron Higler, scored 21 points, shooting 9 for 16 from the floor. Beecroft hit for 12.
Coach Tom Sanders's squad spurted to an early lead as Silver, Wolfe and Jenkins scared the highly-rated Quakers. A stunned Palestra crowed watched Harvard dominate the first half with tight defense and 50 per cent accuracy from the field. Silver had 14 points at the close of the half.
Penn Goes to Big Men
But Chuck Daly, Penn coach, went to a taller lineup. He used big men Johnson, Haigler, 6 ft. 7 in. Bob Bigelow and 6 ft. 8 in. John Engles to put offensive pressure on the smaller Crimson team.
With Jenkins in foul trouble, Sanders went to his bench for two 6 ft. 5 in. forwards: Bill Carey and Len Adams. Adams, returning to action after a back injury and the sophomore Carey combined for five points and five rebounds against their taller opponents.