The Columbia Lions gave the Crimson cagers a lesson in the ancient art of the fast break, and wrested sole control of second place in the Ivy League away from Harvard en route to a 71-62 win at Levien Gymnasium last night.
The Crimson never managed to contain the fast-breaking phalanx of Lion cagers spearheaded by ballhandler Alton Byrd. Harvard's Achilles heel, though, proved to be an inability to hit from the free-throw line as both teams shot nearly 50 per cent from the field. Harvard hit only 6-16 from the charity stripe and failed to convert on four one-on-one opportunities in the first half, while Columbia sank 17-24 in the pivotal Ivy contest.
Harvard came into the game 3-2 in the Ivies, while the Lions boasted a 5-2 league record after virtually dethroning Princeton as defending Ivy champs last weekend. The Tigers incurred their third defeat, losing 38-36.
Columbia jumped out to an 8-2 lead with Harvard coach Frank McLaughlin starting a towering frontline of Brian Banks, Cy Booker and Roosevelt Cox.
The Crimson drew to within 12-9, when Banks got credit for a bucket after Columbia was called for goaltending. Then Cox sunk a technical foul shot called on the irate Lion bench; that was the closest the hoopsters ever came. Shane Cotner, Columbia's leading scorer with 17 points, dropped a jumper from the vicinity of Grant's Tomb to make it 18-9.
Crimson guard Glenn Fine, who hit on all four of his field goal attempts in the first half, threaded his way down the lane for a double pump lay-up to cut the Lion lead to 34-27. Fine, however, had his troubles keeping step with the gyrations of Byrd, the Lions' 5-ft., 8-in. playmaker.
Byrd popped from 15 feet out as the lead climbed to 40-28 with 2:00 left in the half and then dished off a backdoor pass to Jeff Holmes for a lay-up to give the Lions a 14 point lead, their biggest lead yet of the night.
Trailing 42-31 after the first half, the cagers never really managed to make a dent in the lead in the turnover-riddled second half. In fact, the Lion lead bulged to 17 after Juan "the enforcer" Mitchell drilled home a jumper to make it 50-33.
Bobby Allen hit three buckets down the stretch to keep the cagers within seven, but Mitchell hit a turnaround jumper to put Columbia back out ahead by 14 with 6:00 on the clock.
When it was over the cagers stepped out on the slushy sidewalks of Broadway and headed for LaGuardia airport--a sadder but wiser team.