First it was a game-tying slam dunk to help the Bobcats come back from a 19-point deficit against UMass Dec. 1. On Wednesday night at Case Gymnasium, Langston tipped in a miss from Deontay Twyman with 3.8 seconds left to lift Quinnipiac over Boston University, 82-81.
“I thought how a couple of practices I haven’t been up to the coaches’ level,” Langston said. “I was kind of shaky at first, but I realized I was out there, so that means [Quinnipiac head coach Tom Moore] sees something in me, so I was thinking I was on the court and he must have me out here for a reason.”
BU’s John Holland, who had a season-high 31 points and a game-high nine rebounds for the Terriers, came within a hair of breaking the Bobcats’ hearts. Holland dribbled up court and took a shot that bounced off the rim, hit the glass and almost went through as time expired, but it clanked off the front iron.
“He’s our senior. He got it off just in time – one more dribble, one more second, and it’s no good. It was right there,” BU head coach Patrick Chambers said. “There’s going to be games like tonight when you have to jump on his back, and you have to go with it – and we did for the most part. We just came up a bit short.”
Langston finished with 12 points and four rebounds for the Bobcats (9-2), his third straight game scoring in double figures. Senior forward Justin Rutty notched his sixth double-double of the season (36th career), scoring 26 points and bringing down 10 rebounds.
“I feel like we have to keep competing,” Rutty said. “Last year we kept competing – I felt like that was our motto. We play hard all the time, we play tough.”
Quinnipiac, the leading rebounding team in the nation (45.2 rebounds/game), collected 46 rebounds, 16 from the offensive side (two below its season average). Though the Bobcats rank in the top five in rebound margin (+10.9), they only had four more rebounds than the Terriers (5-8).
Junior guard James Johnson, who was coming off a 23 point game against Niagara, scored a season-low 11 points and only shot 30 percent from the floor, but had a critical steal with 40 seconds left in the game. Johnson stole the ball from Holland and hit two free throws after a foul by D.J. Irving to give the Bobcats an 80-79 lead with 37.5 seconds left.
“When a big play needs to be done, I know that guy’s going to be there for the team,” Rutty said. “He made the play that needed to be made at the end of the game with that steal, and that’s something James Johnson does all the time. He’s someone I always want on my side.”
Moore said Johnson and Rutty have established themselves as team leaders.
“Those are the two guys that have done the most and that I trust the most right now to make big plays,” he said.
Lance Brown had season highs in points (13) and rebounds (eight) for the Bobcats, while Twyman finished with eight points, three boards and three assists.
Freshman Ike Azotam finished with four points and tied a career high with seven rebounds. Rutty said the young players have stepped up when they needed to and have shown signs of progression.
“I don’t look at them as freshmen – I look at them as ‘first-year players,’ ” Rutty said. “They know what kind of level it is now. They’re not freshmen, they’re my teammates – that’s the way I look at it.”
The Bobcats found themselves down right from the tipoff. Holland opened the game with a 3-pointer.
“The first play of the game was huge for him,” Moore recalled. “He caught it, we were a bit late closing and kept our hands a little bit too low, and he rose up and made the first jump shot and that got him going.
“He stays balanced, he’s got great pace, and he takes good shots – even that last shot was a strong shot. It takes a strong, young guy to rise up off a pull-up from that distance and put that type of stroke on it.”
Jake O’Brien registered six rebounds and 18 points for the Terriers and became the 31st player in school history to score 1,000 career points in the first half. Irving scored 14 points and Darryl Partin scored 10.
The Terriers went on a 14-4 run to start the game, six of those points from O’Brien.
After cutting the lead to 16-10, Holland scored nine of the team’s next 12 points and gave BU a 13 point lead 8:48 into the first, its largest lead of the night.
The Bobcats followed with an 11-0 run of their own, but then the Terriers went on a 15-8 run for a 43-34 lead. Quinnipiac cut the deficit to two entering halftime.
QU went on a 12-4 run to open the second half, giving the Bobcats their largest lead of the game with 13:06 remaining, but it would not stick throughout with seven lead changes and eight ties over the course of the half.
Chambers’ Terriers have lost five of their last six games (three by three points or less).
“The losses stick with the coach more than the wins,” Chambers said. “Wins are nice, but the losses, they stick. I’m still mad about Harvard (87-71 loss Dec. 11) to be honest, but he have to get better and that’s what practice is for.”
Chambers will try to get his team on the right track when it plays UMass Friday. Moore’s Bobcats look to extend their winning streak to six games when they take on conference opponent Wagner at home Monday.
Photo credit: Quinnipiac Athletics