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After losing to UCLA twice last week, 76-67 in Seattle and 93-62 at Pauley Pavilion, Washington Coach Marv Harshman figured out how to beat the Bruins: "Take North Carolina's enthusiasm and mix it with the talent at Houston and Minnesota, and you might have a chance."
USC's two encounters with Washington State turned out to be embarrassing for first-year Cougar Coach George Raveling. " John Wooden at UCLA, Bob Boyd at USC and Marv Harshman at Washington better watch out," he said early in the week, "because we're on our way back." Not yet, George. The Trojans rolled 80-63 and 79-55. "Well, actually," said Raveling later, "what I really said was...."
Brigham Young was jolted when the NCAA tournament selection committee ruled the Cougars ineligible for postseason play even if they go on and win the Western Athletic Conference championship. The Cougars previously knew only that their star center from Yugoslavia, Kresimir Cosic, would not be able to play. Thus beset, the league-leading Cougars had to struggle to get past dormant Texas at El Paso 48-43. Later in the week they took on their chief challenger for league honors, New Mexico, and lost 76-66. The Lobos were also coming off an unexpectedly close win, surviving 73-70 against freshman-heavy Utah.
Seattle Center Greg Williams dropped in two free throws with 19 seconds remaining against a backdrop of 2,400 screaming voices in Santa Clara's home area to produce a 79-77 victory for the Chieftains. "I didn't hear a thing," he said later. "There was nothing there but me, the ball and the rim."
The Santa Clara loss may have clinched the West Coast Athletic Conference crown for San Francisco, which wrecked St. Mary's 93-72. Long Beach State avenged its only loss of the season, crushing San Jose State 117-75.
St. John's left Syracuse's Manley Field House gasping, wheezing and thoroughly beaten after a record crowd of 8,944 had stirred both the Orange and the dust from the clay floor over which the court is laid. The 80-70 outcome ended the visitors' 14-game winning streak and extended the Syracuse home record to 30 straight. The Orange moved to 18-4 on Saturday by defeating Canisius 76-72.
Providence also won twice, making short order of Cleveland State in a 113-79 mismatch and bombing Holy Cross 94-75. The Friars' lead shrank to one point in the second half as the Crusaders battled back from a 19-point deficit, largely because the opposition's Ernie DiGregorio and Marvin Barnes were both resting on the bench. Reinserted eventually, Barnes had 21 points and 21 rebounds and Ernie D. 28 points.