You think you had a bad vacation? Try talking to one of the guys on the Harvard basketball team. Their holiday season was ruined on three consecutive occasions, as Holy Cross, South Carolina and Georgetown buried the hoopsters' record below the .500 mark for the first time since the squad topped CCNY.
Holy Cross came to town December 18, determined to break the Crimson's four-game winning streak against it. Led by local freshman hotshot Ronnie Perry and backcourt mate Bill Doran, the Crusaders pilgrimaged to a quick 18-6 lead.
Down by ten at the half, 39-29, the hoopsters cut the margin to eight while Perry was out of the game. Bob Hooft, Jeff Hill and Dave Rogers then fouled out halfway through the final frame, and Holy Cross cruised to an easy 86-68 triumph.
Steve Irion led the poor shooting Crimson (37 per cent from the field) with 18 points, while Holy Cross boasted five players in double figures, among them Doran (23 points), Perry (18 points), and Chris Potter (16 points).
Things didn't go any better at the Carolina Classic Tournament in Columbia, South Carolina, four days later. The Crimson drew a strong opponent in host South Carolina in the first round and suffered a close 71-63 defeat at their hands.
Coach Satch Sanders noted that "We were in it all the way," and this proved especially true in the first half, as Harvard's deliberate attack found them on top 27-26 at intermission.
But Irion was charged with his fourth foul early in the second half, and the Gamecocks' freshman center Jim Graziano went to work. Dwarfing converted forward Gary Ackerman, Graziano banged home an incredible 11 straight hoops to put South Carolina on top.
Harvard kept hitting and got the lead down to four with about five minutes to play. Then forward Nate Davis tried to slam-dunk the ball on a fast break, only to have Rogers get in his way in an attempt to draw a charging foul. Davis hit the dunk, and Rogers was charged with a flagrant foul. Both free throws were good, and The Crimson was never close after that.
In the consolation game Harvard was drubbed by a too tall team from Georgetown, 60-40. The Hoyas outrebounded the Crimson by an obnoxious 49-28 margin.
The poor shooting of the Holy Cross game came back to haunt Harvard, as they hit a minuscule 31 per cent from the field and 36 per cent from the line. The only bright spots were that Hooft scored 13 points, which put him ahead of all scorers, and that the team yielded only four turnovers, their lowest total of the season.