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Harvard's born-again basketball team matched Boston College in baskets from the floor, with 27 buckets, in Saturday's 84-70 loss at the IAB. In other words, if B.C. had missed all its free throws, the game would have gone to overtime. In other words, it wasn't even a contest.
Following a lethargic start, B.C. quite simply outplayed the Crimson, taking advantage of Harvard's 39 per cent shooting rate and a 56-36 rebounding edge.
"They beat us off the boards, and that was the key to the game," said junior guard Glenn Fine, whose sterling play once more proved the aptness of his surname.
Fine ran the show for coach Frank McLaughlin's Crimson, sparking the offense with 18 points (tops), five assists (ditto) and a style of dribbling that can best be described as fluid.
Alas, one man does not a team make, and Fine got competent supporting roles only occasionally, and only from Brian Banks and Bob Hooft. Fine himself had difficulty finding the basket in the second half.
For a while, though, it looked as though the dream of an upset over vaunted B.C. would come true (perhaps this McLaughlin is a magician, no?).
When the Eagies came out shooting with a kind of reverse Midas touch in the opening minutes, Fine took charge, worming his way past B.C.'s man-to-man defense and underneath the behemoth Eagle forwards for five quick baskets from inside.
The result, with five minutes gone in the game: Harvard 12, B.C. 2.
Then the dream turned into a nightmare. B.C. coach Tom Davis shut off Harvard's offense by switching to a zone that forced the Crimson to shoot from outside--and usually, it missed. B.C.'s deep bench, superior board strength, and suddenly regained shooting touch then took over.
The Eagles assumed a never-to-be-lost lead with nine minutes left in the half, 23-21, on a 20-foot jumper Ernie Cobb, a junior guard with mattress spring for thighs.
Bob Allen's basket with 5:53 on the clock pulled Harvard to within 31-24, but it had a more significant meaning--Allen's shot marked the first Harvard score in six minutes.
In the closing minutes of the period, the Eagles pulled away even more, heading for the locker room with a 45-32 advantage.
The second half offered more of the same distasteful medicine. Rich Bengel made an attempt to break the B.C. zone with long jump shots, but he ended up popping on only four of thirteen attempts.
The high point of the second half came when the SRO crowd collectively flipped through their programs in the closing minutes in an attempt to fathom the pronunciation of Crimson sub Frank Konstantynowicz's name.
In short, the day belonged to Boston College, as the talented Eagles squad controlled play at both ends of the court.
The most important occurrence for the Eagles took place not during the game though, but before the opening tap-off. Senior co-captain Steve Irion, he of the superlative basketball talents but virtually non-existent knees, was announced to the SRO crowd wearing a coat and tie as his uniform.
The 6-ft. 8-in. Irion will not play this year, and that leaves a very big gap in Harvard's front line. Without rebounding and without an outside shooter to break the zone, this will be a long season for Harvard basketball, McLaughlin magic or no McLaughlin magic.
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