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PRINCETON, N.J.--A technical foul called against Harvard coach Frank McLaughlin flattened a last-minute Crimson comeback and handed Princeton's hoopsters a 68-56 win Saturday night here in Jadwin Gym.
As they did against Pennsylvania Friday night, the Crimson cagers tried to erase 35 minutes of mediocrity with a miraculous stretch drive. But instead of a hot shooting hand stopped Harvard, as the Quakers' fine touch had done in the Palestra, it was an official's short fuse that derailed the hard-charging Cambridge express.
After captain Bob Allen hit an 18-ft. jumper to close the Princeton lead to 51-46 with 4:11 remaining, officials called a foul on Harvard's Don Fleming that brought McLaughlin off the bench.
While Tiger Randy Melville hit one of two free throws, referee Jack Ruffino watched the emotional McLaughlin pace the Harvard sideline. Ruffino had already slapped McLaughlin with a technical late in the first half.
As Harvard brought the ball up court on the next series trailing by six, Ruffino exploded from under the basket and charged McLaughlin with his second technical.
See No Evil...
"I said absolutely nothing," McLaughlin said after the game. "I never swear--that's not my style. But he... I'd rather not comment on the officials. I'm going to make the complaint through the proper channels.
"I just don't think there's any need for this in a game of college basketball," McLaughlin added.
Ruffino could not be reached for comment.
As McLaughlin fumed silently, Princeton's Dave Blatt sank both ends of the technical, and the Tigers retained possession. To complete the abrupt turnabout, Melville, who dumped in a career-high total of 26 points, added a three-point play as Harvard's Mark Harris fouled out of the game trying to stop Melville's layup.
The five-point spree started by the technical left the Crimson on the short end of a 57-46 count with 3:18 to go. It was a deficit the Crimson could not overcome as Melville continued his one-man destruction act, dealing Harvard its seventh Ivy League loss against four wins.
Speak No Evil...
For the kicker, Ruffino charged guard Robert Taylor with a technical foul two minutes later, claiming the over-zealous defender had stepped over the end line and illegally interfered with the Princeton inbounds try.
Princeton got three more points off the call, and closed the door at 64-50.
In a game that left 1800 New Jersey fans sleeping through a lackadaisical first half, the taller Tiger squad began by playing uninspired perimeter basketball and failling to move inside on the undersized Crimson defense. Harvard used a full-court press throughout the game, but it generated little offense as the Crimson found itself rejected by a collapsing Princeton defense.
Only Fleming, who had 31 against Penn, kept the scoring alive, adding 26 more against the Tigers. While Penn and Princeton battle for first place in the Ivies Tuesday night here in Jadwin, Harvard will face three Ivy League opponents this week in the IAB to close out its season. Last night McLaughlin was optimistic, predicting, "We'll win three this week to finish the Ivy season at 7-7."
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