Veterans Glenn Fine and Bob Allen connected on 11 of 12 free throws in the final minute and a half to secure the Harvard basketball team's first victory of the year, 85-77, over Division II powerhouse Bentley College, Saturday night in Waltham.
Fine stole the ball and layed it in with 3:25 left in the contest to extend the Crimson's slender lead to three points at 74-71, and set the stage for the string of charity tosses.
Clinging to a slim lead throughout the second half, a stray Harvard shot with over three minutes left gave Bentley, trailing by just a single point, the ball and brought the Bentley fans to their feet.
But Fine quickly silenced the partisan crowd of 2000 as he swiped the ball from the Falcons' stellar guard, Hank Vetrano, deep in the backcourt. Challenged hotly by Vetrano, Fine nevertheless scooped in a left-handed reverse layup as the Crimson margin bulged to three.
The teams exchanged missed field goal attempts, before the Crimson regained control of the ball at 1:54 after Bentley's Greg Sims was called for traveling. The Crimson spread out with Fine and Allen doing most of the ball-handling. Fine came to the line with 1:18 to play and coolly sunk two foul shots to run the score to 76-71.
Bentley's leading scorer. Kevin Bower, tried to pull the Falcons back into the game, sinking two jump shots from the corners, but Bentley was forced to foul to gain possession of the ball and Allen and Fine (the leading scorers with 26 and 20 points respectively) kept pumping in the free throws, putting the game out of reach.
Hindered by turnovers and inexperience, the slower Crimson found itself behind for most of the first quarter of play. Long-distance tallies by Tom Mannix and the aggressive inside shooting of Mark Harris kept the Crimson close, and with 7:25 in the half, Fine sank two free throws, putting the Harvard five ahead for the first time in the ballgame, 29-28.
The lead bounced back and forth the remainder of the period, ending with the teams deadlocked at 45 apiece.
Aided by some perfect passing, the Crimson scored easy layups on an alley-oop play and a breakaway basket to capture a four-point lead early in the second half. Once the score reached 70-67 in Harvard's favor with ten minutes remaining in the contest, both teams suffered a five-minute scoring drought until a Bentley field goal broke the ice, setting the stage for Fine's defensive masterpiece.
"I was worried about this game all day," coach Frank McLaughlin said after the contest. "Bentley is a really good squad, but our young players wouldn't understand losing to them. This win was very important for us psychologically," he added.