NEW HAVEN, Conn.--Co-captain Glenn Fine sank four crucial free throws in the last 12 seconds of the Harvard-Yale basketball game to stave off a tremendous comeback attempt by the Elis and preserve the Crimson basketball team's second consecutive one-point victory in two nights, 80-79, here at the Payne-Whitney Gym.
Down by 12 points, 68-56, with 6:55 remaining in the contest, the Elis overcame Harvard's stalling tactics, slowly but surely, narrowing the gap to four points, 68-64, with 3:25 on the clock.
Regis O'Keefe, a member of Yale's long-range gunning crew, hit two 25-foot bombs to spark the rally after coming off the bench to replace the Eli's All-Ivy guard, Frank Maturo.
However, the pressure free-throw shooting of Fine, Mark Harris, and Donald Fleming continued to hold the Bulldogs at bay. With the partisan Yale crowd on its feet, yelling vehemently as it tried to distract the Crimson cagers, the three hoopsters all sank both ends of one-and-one opportunities.
In the closing minutes, play-making guard Larry Zigerelli, not known for his scoring punch (he averages 1.5 pts. per game), began to amaze the Yale fans by scoring four of his 10 points, connecting from outside 20 feet with arching knuckleball shots that kept the Elis within two points.
With 2:02 remaining, Fine dished-off a pass to Fleming, who was fouled as he scored. Fleming completed the three-point play, bringing his game-high scoring total to 29 points and also stretching the Harvard lead to five, 76-71.
Undismayed, Yale's leading scorer, Maturo, who had shot dismally all night, hitting on only three of 13 field goal attempts up to that point, forced in two more 20-footers for Yale. The unrelenting Elis pulled to within one point with 58 seconds left in the contest.
Suddenly, a Harvard turnover gave Yale possession of the ball and a chance to take the lead. But the team that "lived by the 'bomb' died by the 'bomb'," as O'Keefe tried unsuccessfully to drop in one more long-range jump shot.
Fine's critical foul shots then sealed Yale's doom, as the senior earned the respect of every fan in the gym with his perfect, pressure-packed free-throw performance.
Commenting on the free throws, Fine said yesterday afternoon, "I tried to look calm in order to be calm. I thought if I shot straight the distance would be right. It was a great feeling when they went in," he added.
In addition to Fleming's outstanding 29-point performance, mainly due to his phenomenal 73 per cent shooting accuracy (11 of 15), the Crimson offense was highlighted by the balanced scoring of co-captain Bob Hooft (16 points), Harris (14 points) and Fine (13 points).
Harvard scored first to open the game and really controlled the tempo of play throughout the first half. The Crimson maintained a three-to-seven-point lead for about 13 minutes until Fleming added seven consecutive marks to the Crimson tally, thus boosting the margin to 12, 35-23.
Yale trailed by 11 points, 41-27, with 2:08 left in the stanza when Harvard began to slow up its offense. At this juncture, the smooth-running Crimson machine faltered, as it did Friday night under similar circumstances in the closing minutes of the Brown first half.
Yale ran off eight unanswered points, leaving the Crimson only six points ahead, 41-35, at intermission.
When the second half began, Hooft immediately took charge of the game, scoring six points and feeding Fleming for another basket as Harvard recaptured a ten-point lead, 49-39. The distance between the two teams remained constant for the next ten minutes until Yale began its comeback in the last six minutes.
The cagers are now lodged in third place in the Ivy League standings, behind Penn and Columbia. The Crimson faces Dartmouth Tuesday night in Hanover, N.H., and then winds up the season this weekend at the IAB against Columbia and Cornell.
FREE THROWS: In his two games against his hometown college, freshman standout Donald Fleming, a New Haven resident, has scored 52 points and led Harvard to two victories over Yale...Rhodes Scholar Glenn Fine appeared on regional TV Saturday afternoon with Marv Albert. FG 52%, FT 72%, team rebounds--4, turnovers--12. FG 42%, FT 58%, team rebounds--5, turnovers--9.
FG 52%, FT 72%, team rebounds--4, turnovers--12.
FG 42%, FT 58%, team rebounds--5, turnovers--9.