The threat of a measles outbreak sent the Harvard men's basketball team scurrying for inoculation shots before last night's game against Columbia. The Crimson might have been able to fend off the virus, but it couldn't find the remedy for Buck Jenkins and the Lions, who rolled to a 92-77 victory last night at Briggs Cage.
Harvard's loss, coupled with Princeton's 79-63 win over Brown in Providence has essentially eliminated the Crimson from contention for the Ivy League title. Harvard is now 9-12 overall and 6-3 in the league, three games behind the first-place Tigers.
Jenkins broke Columbia's all-time single-game scoring record with a 47-point effort. The sophomore guard's performance broke the 34-year old mark held by Chet Forte. Jenkins also broke the record for most points scored by an opponent against Harvard.
The 6'5" Jenkins connected on 15-of-23 field goals and 17-of-21 foul shots. He was single-handedly responsible for bringing the Lions back from a 17-6 first-half deficit and keeping Harvard at a safe distance for most of the second half. After seeing some of the improbable leaners and in-traffic jumpers that Jenkins hit, some fans may have wondered if it was his birthday.
Actually, they would have been right. Last night was not only Jenkins' biggest game of his career. It was also his 20th birthday.
"The shots just fell," Jenkins said. "I took the same shots I always do, nothing special. I knew I was hot, but I didn't know until the end of the game just how many I'd gotten."
Columbia's harassing 3-2 zone defense plagued the outside shooting of the Crimson all night. Harvard, which has relied on the perimeter game all year, was unable to get into a rhythm.
"We had some trouble with the zone," Harvard Coach Peter Roby said. "But we didn't lose the game on the offensive end. As always our game is predicated upon stopping people defensively, which relates to opportunities on offense for us. I don't think we stopped them more than twice in a row."
Harvard was playing without its ace, Co-Captain Ralph James. James re-injured his shoulder in practice on Thursday, and Matt McClain was forced to fill the void in the starting lineup. McClain did not play like an understudy, however, as he led the Crimson's first-half surge. The sophomore guard hit three three-pointers within a two-minute span as Harvard jumped to an early 11-point lead.
Columbia Coach Jack Rohan called timeout, and Jenkins and company then took over.
"I just told them that we had practiced so hard and we weren't doing what we had practiced," Rohan said. "It's utterly ridiculous to spend an inordinate amount of your time practicing one thing and doing something else."
Apparently the Lions had practiced getting the ball in the hands of their scoring guard. After Russ Steward (13 points) hit a three-pointer, Jenkins scored six points in a two-minute stretch, and Columbia took an 18-17 lead that they wouldn't relinquish.
The Lions went into the locker room holding a 32-29 lead. That lead was solidified with a 16-6 run midway through the second half.
Columbia's lead grew to 14 at 78-64 with just over three minutes to play. The final minutes saw a futile Harvard press that repeatedly sent the Lions to the foul line. The only drama in the last few minutes was whether or not Jenkins would get the record.
"They came to me on the bench and said 'Buck needs one to tie and two to break the record,'" Rohan said. "I called the guys over and said if we get it over center court, get it to him."
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