In what was perhaps the most boring down to the wire game in basketball history. Harvard slipped past St. Anslem's, 63-59, raising the Crimson record to 7-7 overall (2-1 in the lives).
The only interesting aspect of the contest was the reemergence of Harvard captain Donald Fleming who scored 16 points as 30 minutes and showed hours quickly he could regain his offered touch after a sever four slump.
Fleming who led the league in scoring last year and holds several Crimson career records motored through the lane for a serves of second half lay up that kept Harvard put one up ahead of the surging Hawks. Fleming grabbed 11 rebounds and chipped in the assists to round out the evening.
When the senior going man wasn't sparking the plan, however, at was truly difficult to stay awake.
Thrilling From the Start
St. Anselm's, coming in with a 3-14 record but riding a two-game winning streak, didn't hit a basket for a solid five minutes and then got cocky and fell behind 19-2. In went the Harvard subs, out the window went Harvard's big lead.
In Harvard's last non-league laugher against the calculating but slow-footed Engineers of MIT, the Crimson men off the bench put together a careful, passing offense and tenacious defense. But faced with the ever-scrappy St. Anselm's Hawks, the second string snapped and tossed the ball away as often as they got a shot off.
Jim Kellem, who earlier had broken the ice for the Hawks, tallied 12 first-half points on a barrage of 15-ft. jump shots, while St. Anselm's "big" man, 6-ft. 7-in Matt Burdick, wandered unharrassed in the lane, sharing four rebounds and hitting six points.
Harvard took a 32-24 lead into the locker room, while most of the crowd caught upon some sleep, thinking, of course, that the Crimson starters would return and blow the Hawks out of their sneakers.
Within five minutes of the second stanza, however, the Hawks had clawed back to a 36-36 tie. Harvard's starting five-still without injured point guard Calvin Dixon-didn't play poorly they just looked a little rusty on their shooting after the long lay-off.
It took some firepower from Fleming to arouse the Harvard troops, and after a little scare, the Crimson pulled itself together, hitting some key foul shots down the stretch, and won by four Snore.
Harvard coach Frank McLaughlin offered no excuses afterwards, observing with some understatement. "We sort of let them off the hook; they relaxed and got very confident. You've got to give them credit for that."
Indeed, far more important than Harvard's lapses against profoundly uninspiring competition was Fleming's recovery and the prospect of upcoming Ivy match-ups against Brown and Yale this weekend.
It remains unclear whether Harvard can handle tougher competition without Dixon, the Crimson's best ball-handler and a dangerous offensive threat, but with Fleming back in form, the rest of the squad may be able to raise its level of play and walk away from the upcoming doubleheader with a 4-1 record.
Comell still clings to first place in the Ivies with a 3-1 record, but the Big Red should tumble toward the middle of the pack any day now. Penn and Princeton, off to their worst starts in recent memory, each stand at 1-2 after the Quakers beat the Tigers by three points on Saturday. "Yale and Brown are even with Harvard at 2-1.
Said McLaughlin: "We've got it right in our hands this weekend; we really do."
NOTEBOOK: In the good news department, Calvin Dixon reports that his left leg is felling much better, and he hopes to be running in practice this week. No word yet on other he'll he ready for Brawn and Yale. But the bad news is that reserve forward Ken Plutnicki may be out for six weeks with a separated shoulder.