SOUTH KINGSTOWN — Cyril Langevine found himself firmly seated on the bench during the second half of University of Rhode Island nonconference men's basketball game against Nicholls State on Tuesday.
Having picked up a pair of personal fouls in the first two minutes following the halftime break, Langevine and his four fouls could only watch as the Rams slipped behind a pesky Colonels squad.
Fast-forward to the end of the game and Langevine is out on the court making winning plays in winning time. His performance helped URI survive in a 70-65 win, as he hit the go-ahead bucket and sealed the deal with an emphatic block on defense.
“It was very hard,” watching from the bench, Langevine said. “I’ve been with [these guys] all summer. I’m just confident in them. Jermaine [Harris] stepped up. That was big for me. I just came back in and did what I had to do.”
Langevine netted himself an old-school 3-point play that gave the Rams the lead for good. He also had key plays down the stretch against Alabama on Friday, something that caught the eye of his former coach.
Dan Hurley showed his UConn players a clip of Langevine blocking a late Crimson Tide shot last week, using it as an illustration of clutch play in crunch time.
“It’s dope,” that he did that, said Langevine. “He coached me for two years. He taught me a lot. I’m just going to keep getting better and make more plays like that.”
Langevine finished with 10 points and 11 rebounds, his third double-double of the season. His current head coach has similar feelings as to Hurley’s on the senior center.
“He’s a winner,” Cox said. “He doesn’t play the game for stats, although he loves getting double-doubles. Those things help us win. The blocks, the rebounds, the hustle plays. He’s a winner.”
Fatts Russell went through his own little mini-drama in the first half. He sustained a knee injury blocking a fastbreak layup, hobbling into the lockerroom with 10:44 to play until the break. By the time the game-clock read 7:33 he had returned to the bench, and a minute later he was back on the court.
That was a good thing for the Rams, who had slipped behind the Colonels by five points. Russell scored the next seven points after stepping back onto the hardwood. He hit three buckets right around the rim, adding an and-one free throw on a steal-and-score to give the Rams a 26-21 lead.
“I tweaked my knee a little bit,” Russell recounted. “As soon as I went in [the trainer’s room], I said I didn’t want to go in. They forced me to stay for a bit, but after awhile they let me go.”
“I felt like my team was a little down [in my absence]. I felt that energy. I knew they needed a spark.”
“His numbers don’t tell half the story,” Cox said. “His leadership throughout the game - particularly in some of those timeouts - is what got us over the hump.”
Even if his numbers don’t tell everything, they were still impressive for the third-year guard. Russell was the team’s leading scorer again with 24 points and six assists. He also swiped the ball away five times.
The starting point guard figured into an explosive half-ending play following his brief trip into the underbelly of the Ryan Center. Running some pick-and-roll action out of a timeout, Russell found freshman Jacob Toppin for an alley-oop. Toppin soared upwards as if he had discovered levitation mid-possession, and when he came back down to Earth the Rams had a four-point lead.
“We drew up the slip play for Fatts to get downhill and then make the right play,” Cox said. “Just so happened that Jacob is a very good cutter. It’s very nice when you can jump that high too.”
The Colonels scored the first 10 points of the second half, capitalizing on Rhody foul trouble to build out to a six-point lead. Langevine picked up his third and fourth personals in the first two minutes following the break, earning him his spot on the bench.
Langevine’s return just after the midpoint of the half coincided with an 8-0 Rhody run. The center missed the front-end of a 1-and-1, but collected his own miss for an easy lay-up that gave the Rams their first lead since the start of the half.
That wouldn’t be the lead for good for the Rams - the Colonels held a 62-60 advantage with under three minutes to play - but it was the start of the game-winning surge. Russell, Langevine and Tyrese Martin had all the Ram points down the stretch.
“Hard, hard-fought victory,” Cox said. “Really proud of our guys. I give a lot of credit to [Nicholls St.]. They competed at a very high level. That’s a very talented team. They took us to the wire.”
Martin hit a 3-pointer on a nifty feed from Dowtin to put URI up 63-62. The Rhody defense put the clamps down from there to send the Ryan Center crowd home happy.
The Rams, meanwhile, will head to the airport to fly to Jamaica. They will play games against North Texas and LSU in the Jersey Mike’s Jamaica Classic before returning to Kingston for a home game next Wednesday.