Defense, rebounding and timely three-point shooting late in the game propelled Boston College to a convincing 69-56 victory over Pittsburgh on Sunday evening at Conte Forum.
The Eagles improved to 9-11 and 4-6 in the ACC while avenging a 69-67 loss at Pitt on Jan. 8. The Panthers fell to 8-13 and 3-7 in the ACC.
BC shot 44.8% from the floor and 7-of-21 from behind the arc with 37 rebounds. BC forced 13 turnovers that were converted into 19 points. BC’s ball pressure perimeter defense held Pitt to 35.1% from the floor and 5-of-18 from downtown with just six assists.
BC backcourt siblings Makai Ashton-Langford and DeMarr Langford Jr. combined for 38 points while back-up center Quinten Post netted 11 with 10 boards.
“I thought we played 35 minutes of hardcore defense,” said BC first year coach Earl Grant. “Guys were trying to contest shots and trying to box out and fighting for loose balls.
“I thought we did a pretty good job our post defensive package and I was happy for the guys for their effort. We have to keep building and working towards playing for 40 minutes.”
BC established its pressing perimeter defense in the first half and brought it back for an encore performance in the second. BC went up 39-26 on a baseline floater and two from the line by Ashton-Langford with 15:30 to play.
BC’s early surge developed into a 21-6 run that featured contributions on both ends from all five players on the court. Freshman forward Gianni Thompson made a pair of free throws to give BC a 52-32 lead with 10:01 to play.
Pitt did a little belt-tightening on their end and scored seven straight points to cut BC’s lead, but it was too little too late. Ashton-Langford stymied the Panthers’ late comeback with three from behind the arc to give BC a 66-48 lead with 3:38 on the clock. Ashton-Langford’s middle trey was a desperation turnaround from off the key at the end of the shot clock.
“The time was running down and I knew I had to get a shot off,” said Ashton-Langford. “I think I used a little pivot and nothing was there because I was double teamed.
“I just turned around and that was the only opening I seen for a shot so I just got it up and it dropped. I wouldn’t say I practiced that specific shot but it felt good when it came off my hands.”
Pitt opened the game with a 13-5 run that included the individual play of the game. Pitt 6-10 graduate forward Mouhamadou Gueye blocked T.J. Bickerstaff’s jumper from the top of the key, retrieved the loose ball and dashed up the court for a resounding tomahawk dunk.
BC regrouped and tied the game 16-16 on a put-back by 7-0 forward Quinten Post with 11:03 to play. Both teams were effective attacking the rim and the game was tied 19-19 in third media timeout.
BC went up 24-19 on a nifty step back corner three followed by an acrobatic drive by DeMarr Langford Jr. with 6:15 to play. The Eagles employed tenacious perimeter defense down the stretch to generate a 7-0 spurt and take a 31-22 lead at the half.