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PHILADELPHIA--What looked like a Pennsylvania walkaway turned into a cliffhanger in the closing minutes here at the Palestra, but the Quakers held on to hand Harvard an 84-73 defeat last night.
The game was closer than the score indicated, as the Crimson hoopsters battled back from a 16-point deficit midway through the second period to close the score to 70-62 with 5:06 remaining on a Bob Allen jumper.
After a two-minute stall, the Quakers called time out; and on the ensuing inbound pass, Allen grabbed the ball and deposited a clean layup off the steal, narrowing the score to 70-64 with 2:43 showing on the clock.
With time running out and Penn trying to hold the ball, Harvard was forced to start fouling. But the Quakers shot 86 per cent from the free-throw line, making a Harvard comeback nearly impossible in a game where officials called 53 personal fouls and six players, three from each team, fouled out of the game.
After Andre Reynolds hit both ends of a one-and-one at 2:26, Don Fleming deposited a pair of free-throws at the opposite end, ignoring the boisterous cheers of 3200 screaming Quaker fans and tightening the tally to 72-66.
Calvin Dixon, who played superbly, teaming with Fleming, Allen, Mark Harris and substitute George White in Harvard's comeback try, was forced to foul Ken Hall with 1:54 to go. His foul stopped the clock but also knocked Dixon out of the game with his fifth personal.
After Hall sank both shots, Crimson hopes rose once again as White rolled for the basket and tossed in a twisting lay-up. But officials called a charging foul on the play disallowing the basket and handing the ball back to Pennsylvania.
Another Penn free-throw was foiled by a twisting Harris hook to move the count to 75-68 with 1:33 to go. On the next play, Harris fouled out of the game, and Penn followed with three more points from the charity stripe that, together with a Harvard turnover, left the Crimson with little more than a prayer.
Fleming gave Harvard one final hope as the clock hit one minute with Penn up 78-68. En route to a game-high stellar performance of 31 points (12 for 17 from the floor), Fleming canned a gutsy drive to bring Harvard back within eight.
But Penn kept up its barrage from the foul line and closed the door on the Crimson dream, snapping a three-game Harvard win streak in the front end of Harvard's toughest Ivy league weekend of the season.
Outsized and outmanned, the cagers put in a gutsy closing stretch of play.
Finally though, a dismal 56 per cent free-throw average and a failure to play 40 minutes all-out basketball doomed the hoopster's fortunes.
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