An emotionally ravaged Harvard basketball team could not match the speed and sophistication of a University of Pennsylvania squad and sagged to an 83-70 defeat Saturday night at the IAB.
One night after the gut-wrenching 56-54 overtime loss to Princeton that eliminated them from the Ivy League title race, the cagers fell behind early and spent most of the evening in futile pursuit of a scoring spurt that might have brought them back into the contest.
The capacity crowd of 2000 might have been able to go home at halftime had it not been for the heroics of junior Don Fleming. His season- and game-high 31 points (20 in the first half) highlighted a dreary offensive performance by the Crimson before he fouled out with 5:58 to go.
In and Out
Harvard's inability to put any offensive thrust together came at least in part because the game had more fouls than Frank Perdue's farm. Four Harvard players fouled out and the rough physical action inside took its toll. "I never felt as sore as I do now," Fleming said afterwards. "I got knocked all over the place."
So the Crimson moves toward the end of this season secure in the knowledge that it belongs in the first division of the Ivy League--but is just as surely the junior member of the Princeton-Penn-Harvard club. The Tigers and the Quakers, both 11-1 now, appear headed for their second straight one-game playoff for the League crown. The Crimson has lost 21 straight to Princeton and 21 of the last 23 to Penn. Enough said about parity.
Harvard kept within range in the first half Saturday, almost entirely because of Fleming and freshman forward Joe Carrabino, who combined for 30 of the team's 34 points. But the eight-point halftime deficit expanded gradually in the second stanza when the Quakers clamped down on Fleming. Carrabino lost the hot hand (he finished six for 15) and a Penn press leveled all hopes of a comeback.
Fleming's 15-footer with 10:05 remaining brought the Crimson to within 11, 60-49, but Penn center George "as tall as 12:30" Noon came right back with a three-point play to fatten up the lead once again. Harvard never got any closer until garbage time.
The loss drops Harvard to 7-4 in the Ivies (a pair of losses to both Penn and Princeton) and 14-9 overall, while Penn moves to 11-1, 18-6. Barring three disasters in its last three games, the Crimson should finish a comfortable third in the League.
THE NOTEBOOK: Tuesday night's game against Dartmouth will mark the final varsity basketball game ever in the Indoor Athletic Building (a renovated Briggs Cage is home next year). Several former Harvard cagers will be on hand for the festivities, and the team is sponsoring a party before the game at 33 Dunster St.... When we last saw Kirkland House junior Steve Larkin, he had won a trip for two to Bermuda with his half-court shot at halftime in the Brown game. He was formally presented with his Bermuda Shoot laurels Saturday. His companion? Roommate Kirk Mundy, "who dragged me to the game in the first place." Bon voyage, guys.
PENN 83, HARVARD 70
at the IAB
PENN (83)--Paul Little 2-1-5: Angelo Reynolds 9-1-19; Brad Wynn 0-0-0; Vincent Rose 1-3-5; Fran McCaffery 0-1-1; Avery Rawllngs 2-1-5; David Lardner 5-0-10; Kenneth Hall 0-6-6; Michael Brown 4-7-15; George Noon 4-9-17. Totals 27-29-83.
HARVARD (70)--Mark Harris 2-4-8; Donald Fleming 10-11-31; Joe Carrabino 6-6-18; Calvin Dixon 0-5-5; Tom Mannix 0-0-0; Deve Kohn 1-0-2; Chris Mitchell 0-1-1; Brian Buckelew 0-0-0; Tom Clerke 0-1-1; Monroe Trout 1-0-2; Bob McCabe 0-0-0; Ken Plutnickl 0-2-2; George White 0-0-0; Terry Murnin 0-0-0; Totals 20-30-70.
Team records--P, 18-6; H, 14-9