Thank God, as they say, for small favors. More precisely for the Harvard men's basketball team, thank Him for the small, relatively unknown colleges that pad the Crimson's basketball schedule.
Harvard picked on Merrimack College Saturday afternoon in the IAB, overcoming one of its most abysmal halves of basketball in years to overcome the Warriors, 80-77. The Crimson's record now stands at 4-6.
With an early season win over Dartmouth, Harvard's Ivy League record remains 1-0, tops in the conference. Upsets dominated the weekend's Ivy slate, with Brown (0-11 as of last Friday) dumping both Penn and Princeton at the Bruin's Marvel Gym. In addition, Yale, after losing to Princeton Friday night, upset Penn, 49-48, on Saturday.
"We were very lucky today. I was very worried about this game," Crimson coach Frank McLaughlin said after the Crimson's comeback win. "If we had played Cornell or Columbia today, we would have gotten blown away. That's why we schedule games like this."
The appearance of the Warriors at the IAB proved particularly fortuitous because starting point guard Calvin Dixon has just begun a month of rest after suffering a vacation knee injury. McLaughlin replaced the flashy playmaker with freshman Kyle Standley.
Starting in the backcourt along with classmate Bob Ferry, Standley overcame some early jitters to turn in a solid 33 minutes of play, chipping in nine points and six assists.
The two squads played sloppy, but even, basketball for the first 15 minutes, and Merrimack led, 22-21, with 4:39 left in the half. The Crimson then fell apart, or maybe the Warriors put it all together. In any case, when the half-time buzzer sounded, Merrimack led, 37-24.
In those 20 minutes, Harvard shot 39 per cent from the floor (11 for 28) and 29 per cent from the foul line (two for seven). By comparison, Merrimack was perfect on 11 tried from the line and converted 13 of 27 field goal attempts, while out-rebounding the far-taller Crimson, 17-11.
In its first half of basketball since December 22, the Crimson sorely needed Dixon to guide the ball through the Warrior press. Freshman guard Ferry, Standley and Kevin Boyle (just up from the j.v.) turned over the ball with distressing regularity.
Ferry and Standley settled down in the second half, and the rest of the squad adjusted to a Dixon-less offense. After falling behind, 46-30, Harvard roared back, with Ferry, Monroe Trout, and Joe Carrabino leading a sustained drive, which left the Crimson up, 58-56, with 5:39 to go.
Harvard never trailed again. Ferry and Trout (10-for-13 from the floor) led all scorers with 22 points each, with Carrabino adding 19. The Crimson heads to the hoop again tomorrow night against MIT at the IAB.
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