Tom Moore didn’t need any time to think about whether Saturday’s win against Rhode Island was the biggest win in program history. He knew it was.
Men’s basketball’s 73-66 win at home was the first ever against an Atlantic 10 Conference opponent.
“The LIU [Long Island University] win to get to the championship last year was more significant, but this might be the loudest,” Quinnipiac head coach Moore said. “College basketball fans in the Northeast will recognize this, and it might open some eyes about what we’re doing here.”
Seniors Justin Rutty and Deontay Twyman led a balanced attack with 13 points each, and Quinnipiac’s bench added 26 points.
“We came so close against UMass,” Rutty said. “This one right here helps a lot. It helps build some self-esteem going into NEC play.”
After a 19-point comeback against UMass on Dec. 1, Quinnipiac lost by two points on a last-second goaltending call.
On Saturday, Rutty pulled down a team-high seven rebounds for the Bobcats, pacing Quinnipiac to a 40-37 rebounding advantage.
Game photos from Matt Eisenberg:
Senior forward Delroy James, an All-Atlantic 10 talent, scored 18 for the Rams. Sophomore sharpshooter Nikola Malesevic notched 10 points, but missed two free throws with 1:47 that kept the score at 69-66.
Quinnipiac led by three with two minutes left in the game, coming out of a timeout with possession. But an errant inbounds pass from freshman guard Dominique Langston gave Rhode Island the ball right back. Malesevich couldn’t capitalize on free throws to pull the Rams within one, and Twyman knocked down his free throws on the other end to seal the game.
“We didn’t back down,” Moore said. “It’s very rare that you can say you’re happy with every kid that played. But I’m happy with every guy that played.”
Langston scored 12 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 26 minutes of play, including two 3-point field goals.
Quinnipiac shot 9-11 from the free throw line, while Rhode Island went 13-24.
James Johnson, hero from the Mount St. Mary’s win on Saturday, saw limited minutes (23 in total) down the stretch with foul trouble, but added 12 points and six assists.
Rhode Island fought their way back to a 42-38 lead in the second half after a 7-0 run, but Quinnipiac fired back with a 12-0 run of their own.
Sophomore guard Lance Brown saw the first home action of his career, scoring four points and grabbing five rebounds. Freshman Ike Azotam added seven points and three rebounds.
Quinnipiac’s next matchup, away at Niagara on Dec. 22, projects highly-touted freshman Tevin Baskin to play. Baskin, ineligible the past three semesters, is eligible to practice with the team after the last day of final exams.