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WEST HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) _ The cheering was more contagious than the measles in this case.
″Take it easy 3/8 Take it slow 3/8 Go Hawks go 3/8″ the red-and-white outfitted cheerleaders yelled, inciting the several hundred fans who filled a student center cafeteria Friday night to watch a closed-circuit telecast of the University of Hartford’s basketball game with North Atlantic Conference rival Siena College.
Only their team didn’t hear them.
The game was being played about 300 yards across campus at a nearly empty gymnasium, however, where security guards blocked the entrances to spectators because of measles at both schools.
″They know we’re here, though. We’re doing this for the team,″ said bubbly freshman cheerleader Jenneen Hull, part of the crowd watching the game in the cafeteria.
Hartford started quickly, taking a 24-15 lead. That’s when Siena coach Mike Deane called his third timeout and began barking at his huddled team before realizing his words were being heard by all of the 35 or so people - including both teams and support personnel - that were allowed into the little gym.
He hushed his tone to a whisper.
″Isn’t this the nuttiest thing you’ve ever seen?″ asked Hartford athletic director C. Donald Cook. ″In 25 years in the business I’ve never jumped through so many hoops to finish a season. You just have to be ready for whatever presents itself.
″It’s easier handling a capacity crowd. You don’t have to have all the precautions - checking innoculations and security.″
Back across the campus at the student center cafeteria, the group of students who attended the closed-circuit showing of the game were having a little fun with the situation.
They handed out surgical masks and buttons that read ″There’s no thrill in Loudonville.″ They were mocking the hometown of Siena in upstate New York where the measles epidemic apparently began. There were more than two dozen cases reported at Siena and one at Hartford.
The students also handed out pamphlets that read ″Hartford Hawks vs. Siena Infectors ... Help the Hawks find the cure 3/8 3/8 3/8″
″I think this is great,″ senior Warren Rockmacher said of the closed circuit viewing party.
Rockmacher and his brothers from Tau Kappa Epsilon - the fraternity of Ronald Reagan, Terry Bradshaw and Phil Simms - had attended the 82-72 loss at Siena during which the contagious disease is believed to have been passed to Hawks’ guard Nate Gainey.
″It’s the only way we can see the games since the board of health told us we couldn’t be there in person and Siena is the school that infected us,″ Rockmacher said.
The students stood on chairs and peeked around bodies to watch the game on two televisions. Independent television station WTWS of New London relayed the game from the gym to their truck and back into the cafeteria.
″They charged us a very reasonable rate, just enough to cover their costs,″ said Student Association president Mark Resnick, who did much of the work arranging the telecast on short notice.
″Siena is our biggest rival. When we found out we couldn’t watch, we came up with this. It was three solid days of work.″
The students cheered loudly and banged cafeteria tables with each point the Hawks scored, but it wasn’t enough as Siena dominated the start of the second half and went on to an 82-70 victory and the regular season championship of the conference.
Some of the closed-circuit viewers were concerned about the effects the spectator quarantine would have on the team. Fans won’t be allowed at the Hartford Civic Center March 9-11, either, when the NAC holds its postseason tournament at the 15,414-seat arena.
″I think it will hurt the team in the long run,″ Rockmacher surmised. ″We’ve been a factor in their games this year. We’ve been called the sixth man by the coach.″
After Gainey was diagnosed with measles and hospitalized on Feb. 18, public events were canceled or postponed until Sunday, March 12 - the day after the conference tournament ends.
But the students and administrators of Hartford - which has 4,000 undergraduates and 3,000 or so part-timers and graduate students, not to mention faculty and other personnel - congratulated each other for pulling together to do the best they could under difficult circumstances.
″It’s amazing that one case of the measles could cause so many adjustments all over campus. The people at the health services department deserve purple hearts after all the innoculations they’ve given in the last week,″ Cook said. ″But if we get by the weekend without any new cases, we should be in the clear.″
Cook was crossing his fingers, though.
″If we have another case, we’ll probably have to cancel our spring baseball trip to Florida,″ he said. Other Games
No teams ranked in The Associated Press Top Twenty played Friday night.
In Hanover, N.H., Dartmouth stopped Princeton’s bid to win the Ivy League title and an NCAA postseason berth by defeating the Tigers 53-43.
Princeton’s Kit Mueller scored 27 points, but it wasn’t enough as the Big Green used a balanced attack to foil Princeton’s second attempt in as many games at clinching the league title. On Tuesday, the Tigers, 18-7 overall and 10-3 in the league, lost to Pennsylvania in a game that would have made them champs.
The victory kept alive Dartmouth’s hopes of a league championship. The Big Green moved to 16-9 and 9-4.
Dartmouth needs to win at home today against Pennsylvania and hope that Harvard can beat visiting Princeton. Such a scenario would set up a one-game playoff between Princeton and Dartmouth to determine the league champion.
Princeton used a deliberate tempo and 19 points from Mueller in the first half to build a 27-23 lead. But Dartmouth’s swarming defense held Princeton to one point in the first 12 minutes of the second half.
During that time, Dartmouth scored 13 points to take a 36-28 lead.
″I thought we did a nice defensive job on Mueller″ in the second half, Dartmouth coach Paul O’ Sullivan said. ″In the first half, I thought we were in trouble.″
Jim Barton led Dartmouth with 15 points, while John Mackay and Brendan O’ Sullivan scored 12 each and Walter Palmer had 10 points and 11 rebounds.
″All we wanted to do was stay in it,″ Barton said. ″We have to hope Harvard can come through.″
Today, in games involving ranked teams, it was No. 1 Arizona at UCLA, No. 4 Oklahoma vs. Nebraska, No. 7 Missouri vs. Colorado, No. 10 Michigan vs. No. 11 Iowa, No. 14 Louisville at Notre Dame, No. 16 Florida State at Southern Mississippi, No. 17 St. Mary’s, Calif. vs. Portland in the West Coast Athletic Conference tournament at San Francisco, No. 19 Ball State at Western Michigan and No. 20 North Carolina St. vs. Wake Forest at Greensboro, N.C.
On Sunday, it will be No. 2 Georgetown at No. 6 Syracuse, No. 3 Indiana vs. No. 8 Illinois, No. 5 North Carolina vs. No. 9 Duke, No. 12 Seton Hall vs. Brooklyn College, No. 15 West Virginia vs. the Massachusetts-S t. Joseph’s winner in the Atlantic 10 tournament at Philadelphia and No. 18 Nevada-Las Vegas at New Mexico State.
A victory today would sent St. Mary’s back to the court Sunday against an as-yet-undetermined opponent.