Massachusetts invaded the Palestra with only a 4-4 record, but no one was all that impressed with mighty Pennsylvania. "We saw them against Harvard and, although they won, we didn't feel they showed a killer instinct," said U.Mass Coach Jack Leaman. "We felt if we stayed close, anything might happen in the final five minutes."
What happened was that Penn did little more shooting than the spectators, and U.Mass won 62-58, which had Quaker Coach Chuck Daly raging. "This is not the Penn team that was ranked second or third in the country and blew schools off the floor with great talent," he said. "This team has to learn how to fight, and right now I don't see it in this bunch. They are reluctant shooters."
Their shyness apparently abated, the Quakers came back to down Princeton 58-53. "We were playing up to the old Penn reputation," said Guard John Beecroft. "We decided after Massachusetts that we had better go out there and play the game."
St. Joseph's downed Drexel 68-53, and Mike Bantom came away saying he felt like he had been in a fight. "I've been on corners in North Philadelphia that aren't that rough," he said. "I'd rather match talent any day than play a team that tries to neutralize me by beating me into nothing."
Canisius gained a leg of the Little Three title in Buffalo, whipping Niagara 74-69 behind Mel Montgomery's career high 25 points. Providence tuned up for UCLA by scoring a record 118 points to dump Western Kentucky by 30, then got 51 points from backcourt men Ernie DiGregorio and Kevin Spacom in an 86-79 triumph over Duquesne.
With Syracuse standing at 9-2 and his own club only 6-5, Temple Coach Harry Litwack announced he again was thinking of retiring. Charged up, the Owls all but blew Syracuse out in the first half (34-18), hung on and won 63-55 with 12 straight free throws at the finish. Syracuse's game faltered badly when Dennis DuVal played just five minutes before being sidelined by a pulled hamstring muscle.
"Dennis leads us in scoring and assists, his quickness helps our press and he mops the floor at halftime," said Coach Roy Danforth. "Other than that, he doesn't do much for us."
1. PROVIDENCE (10-1)
2. ST. JOHN'S (9-2)