The Harvard basketball team would be on its way to the NIT at this moment if, like the Watergate tapes, time could be erased or tampered with. The last few seconds of eight games this year have seen the Crimson bow by three points or less. Fifteen measly points in the right places, and Harvard could boast a 19-5 record, better on the books than NIT-bound St. John's and UMass.
But crimes remain crimes once committed, and Saturday night added a final theft to the season, as Brown's Lloyd Desvigne sank a game-winning jump shot at the buzzer to nip the Crimson, 56-54, and deprive Harvard of a .500 season for the first time in four years. Tom Sanders's squad finishes 11-13 and fourth in the Ivy League.
The Bruins fell behind, 10-2, after the tip-off, as the Crimson opened in a zone defense designed to block Phil Brown, the league's leading leaper, off the boards.
Snare the Pill
The 6 ft. 5 in. junior failed to snare the pill through the game's first 14 minutes, but his teammates came on strong when Sanders pulled his team out of the zone. The Bruins went ahead, 14-13, and battled head-on with Harvard, albeit without Brown's rebounds, to trail only 31-30 at halftime.
The second half featured a see-saw battle, with offsetting performances by Brown, who finished with 11 grabs and nine points, and Tony Jenkins, who captained the Crimson cause with 14 rebounds and 17 points. But, as usual, the final few seconds proved fatal to Harvard's hardwood heartstoppers, with Desvigne following in a long line of enemy spoilers.
Jenkins brought his Cantabrigian cage career to a close by moving to fourth place on the Crimson alltime scorers list. His 17-point tally, added to Friday's 15 against Yale, inched the three-year starter just over the magic 30 he needed to surpass Bill Dennis (1074). Jenkins's varsity total, 1077 points, leaves him behind only Dale Dover (1201), James Brown (1242) and Keith Sedlacek (1262).
Harvard's other departing senior, guard Ken Wolfe, terminated his tenure in Crimson hoop on a less triumphant note. In a pre-game meal, Sanders's only Mr. Consistent dropped a filling in his soup. A quick trip to a Providence dentist sealed the gap, but the cavity in his play remained, as Wolfe could muster only six points.
Lou Silver chipped in ten points, while Steve Selinger added nine, and Mike Griffin and Arnie Needleman contributed six apiece. Harvard outrebounded Brown, 37-32. Both clubs shot 41 per cent for the night.