He stands in at 6-ft., 5-in., and weighs 205 pounds. He swishes 'em from 25 feet. He finger rolls 'em in close. He leaps, he floats, and floats, and floats. He rebounds, dribbles, passes and steals. They call him "The American Express." And after the performance of Russell "Boo" Bowers at the IAB Saturday night, you can bet American University head coach Gary Williams never leaves home without him.
The American University Eagles took advantage of awesome 25-for-36 shooting (69 per cent) from the floor in the second half to break open a 54-52 halftime lead and snap Harvard's undefeated string at three, 108-88, before 1000 at the IAB.
Bowers, with 23 points in the second half and a career-high 45 in the game, led the Eagle surge.
At the 16-minute mark of the second half, a soft 12-footer by Bowers tied the score at 60, and he went on to score six of A.U.'s next ten baskets, leading a 20-8 Eagle run, to put the game away, 80-68, before Harvard coach Frank McLaughlin called a too-late time out at 10:40.
On the night, Bowers finished at 18-for-30 from the floor (one hoop short of the A.U. record he set last season) and nine-of-12 from the line for his 45 points. The "Boos" rained down on the court with every shot.
And he had lots of help. Guard Ed Sloan shot ten for 12 for a career-high 20 points. Mark Nickens had 15 points and eight steals. Co-captain Dennis Ross laid in 13 points and cleared off a game-high 14 rebounds. The Eagles can probably run and jump with any team in the nation. Shooting the lights out (60 per cent for the night) didn't hurt, either.
And so what probably was the Crimson's best court performance of the season was dwarfed in comparison to American's.
"I'm very pleased with the way our team played," McLaughlin said afterward. "If we play like we did tonight for the rest of the season, we'll win the Ivy League."
"That was as good a game as there's been in the IAB in a long time."
Freshman front-liners Joe Carrabino and Monroe Trout topped the Crimson efforts. Carrabino tossed in a season-high 26 points, including 19 in the first half, and added a Crimson high of seven rebounds. Trout hit on six of seven from both the floor and the line, scoring 18 points (12 in the first half) and banged the boards for six rebounds. Leading scorer Don Fleming also clicked for 18.
The Harvard nets were also on fire, as the Crimson shot 60 per cent in the first half and an excellent 57 per cent for the game. The hot shooting kept Harvard in the first half (the lead changed hands 18 times) but American's speed left the Crimson dragging after intermission.
With 1:29 left in the first half, and Harvard up, 50-47, Bowers went to the line for a one-and-one, which produced a bench technical against Harvard. "The Express" made three of the four shots to tie the game, Ross swished a basket seconds later, and American went to the locker room up by two.
"I knew they [the Eagles] were good," McLaughlin said, "but I didn't know they were that good."
THE NOTEBOOK: Fleming's 18-footer less than a minute into the second half put him over the 1000 point mark for his career, the eighth Harvard player to do so. He now has 1005... Crimson co-captain Tom Mannix dislocated a finger at the 16-minute mark of the first half, and was absent from the Harvard lineup for the remainder of the game... McLaughlin, anticipating the fast-paced transition game, started Carrabino at center in place of 6-ft., 10-in. Bob McCabe. The freshman proved his coach right, with an excellent game in the pivot... The Portland Trail Balzers' Kermit Washington was the last American University player to make it big in the pros. Boo Bowers, whom NBA general managers say is a potential first-round draft choice, will be the next one.