With its NCAA tournament life on the line at St. John's, Syracuse won a foul-shooting contest in the last minute and a half and narrowly avoided a third consecutive loss 72-71. The Orange trailed 62-60 when Guard Dennis DuVal made a jump shot and then moments later hit with a three-point play to lift Syracuse to a 67-63 advantage. DuVal, 11 for 20 for the night, had been 5 for 20 against Connecticut earlier in the week as Syracuse lost at home 61-60, its first home defeat in 37 games.
Penn has a weapon that is getting pretty familiar, Guard John Beecroft. Trailing Temple 42-41 in the final seconds, Coach Chuck Daly leaned over, hit him on the chin and said, "Stick it, Beek." Beecroft followed orders with a 15-footer good for a 43-42 victory. On Saturday, Beecroft stuck another one, this time with one second left, to down Harvard 55-53. Said Beecroft, becoming a connoisseur, "It wasn't the kind of picture shot you like to get." Harvard, which has now lost six games by a total of 11 points, also lost to Northeastern, 55-53. Princeton won over Harvard 63-49 and Dartmouth 67-49, and Brown beat Yale 102-70 on the strength of its midget backcourt. Eddie Morris, 5'10", had nine points and 12 assists. Jim Burke, two inches shorter, led all scorers with 24 points.
Providence turned the ball over 30 times against young and inexperienced Villanova, but managed an 87-77 margin in a game with the usual formula: Kevin Stacom, 23 points; Marvin Barnes, 16 rebounds. St. Bonaventure's ace freshman Essie Hollis, a 6'5" forward, connected for 28 points and 13 rebounds as he personally destroyed visiting Duquesne 84-71. The Dukes, who missed 6'9" Lionel Billingy, sidelined with a sprained ankle for at least another week, probably will miss the postseason tournaments, too. Massachusetts, 9-0, toyed with Boston University's Terriers 82-68, and Pittsburgh downed Duke 62-46.
1. PROVIDENCE (11-2)
2. PENN (9-3)
Cincinnati's Gale Catlett and Louisville's Denny Crum, supposedly good friends, seemed in no need of additional enemies after Catlett's Bearcats had defeated Crum's Cardinals for the second time this season. Crum was angry because his team had been denied practice time on the home team's floor. He got a small measure of revenge when the Cardinals were awarded a pregame free throw because Cincinnati's Mike Franklin had dunked during warmups. In turn, that burned Catlett, who claimed Crum had gone to the officials requesting the technical call. "Tell Denny to run his program and I'll run mine," said Catlett, threatening to walk away from a postgame interview after Cincinnati's 77-70 win. Otherwise, Louisville kept pace in the Missouri Valley race by beating Drake 87-82, while New Mexico State, 3-0 in the conference, dealt an 80-75 knockout blow to Tulsa.
Indiana slipped by Wisconsin 52-51, marking the fourth time in five games that the Badgers have been involved in a one-point decision. Even in defeat, Wisconsin, playing at Indiana, gained some of the stature the Hoosiers continue to lose. Before their game the two schools were tied at 13th in the national rankings. Purdue also looked like a team that could finish atop the Big Ten. The Boilermakers made turnovers their first six times down the floor against Northwestern, yet came back from a 17-2 deficit to win 85-78. John Garrett and Frank Kendrick combined for 42 points against Illinois, losing its 10th consecutive game to Purdue, this time by 91-69. At Minneapolis, Gopher Coach Bill Musselman failed to see the light. Trailing Michigan by seven points with 37 seconds left, Minnesota pulled to within two at 65-63—or so it seemed to Musselman. Actually, the score was 66-63; but a burned-out scoreboard bulb made it appear that the margin was two points. As a result, Pete
Gilcud's last-second tip-in for Minnesota sent Gopher fans into a false delirium—and Michigan home with its 10th triumph in 12 games.
"Too many guys are putting their hands on their hips too soon," said Al McGuire, concerned that his team had grown complacent after being all but alone on campus for a month at semester break. The Warriors broke out of their stupor by drilling San Diego State 90-66 but was so sloppy in edging DePaul 63-59 that McGuire held a closed-door dressing-room session.
If it was too early for returns to mean much in the Big Eight, one thing seemed certain: Oklahoma's prize sophomore, Alvan Adams, will again be voted Player of the Year. He hit the last four Sooner field goals and totaled 27 points in a 65-63 thriller over Kansas State. Missouri waved aloha to Hawaii and its 11-0 record in a mainland unwelcome, beating the islanders 86-74 as Al Eberhard and Gary Link combined for 42 points. Notre Dame, girding for Saturday's game with UCLA, jumped out to a Bruinlike 12-0 lead over Xavier and romped home 87-44.