Senior forward Kevin Langford gave himself five more minutes to cement his legacy at Daniel-Meyer Coliseum. Unfortunately, the referees only gave him four minutes and 57 seconds.
The Horned Frogs fell to San Diego State University 79-77 Saturday night in overtime in a game that featured a furious comeback and a strange ending that was decided by the officials.
After Langford made the first of his two free throw attempts with five seconds to play, he intentionally missed the second, causing a scramble for the ball which the officials ruled went out of bounds off of Horned Frog junior forward Zvonko Buljan. The clock read 2.7 seconds remaining, but after a lengthy discussion the referees said that time had run out, and the game was in fact over.
“We had chances to win the game, and I’m proud of the (team’s) effort,” said head coach Jim Christian. “We clawed our way back.”
The ending put a slight damper on a gutsy performance by Langford, who along with fellow senior forward John Ortiz, was making his final appearance at home. Langford suffered through foul trouble the entire first half and went in to the break having scored only two points in seven minutes.
“It was Senior Night, and I wanted (Langford) to play,” Christian said. “When he’s not on the floor, it’s hard for us to do a lot of things.”
In his absence, the Horned Frogs watched the Aztecs’ lead balloon to 13 before reaching a game high of 16.
Langford and freshman guard Ronnie Moss took over in the final 10 minutes of the game, on their way to point totals of 18 and 22, respectively. With the scoring efforts of Moss and Langford, the offense improved its field goal percentage from 31 percent in the first half to 52 percent in the second. Langford also showed off his penchant for drawing fouls inside, as two Aztec starters fouled out before the end of regulation.
“I couldn’t foul out of my last home game with two points,” Langford said. “I had to play smart, but still play hard.”
The Horned Frogs tied the game with 24 seconds left in regulation after two free throws from Langford.
“If I had made some other free throws (earlier in the game), I wouldn’t have had to make them,” Langford said.
In the extra period, the Aztecs failed to connect on a single shot, but went 10 of 12 from the charity stripe. The Horned Frogs missed their two three-point attempts in overtime and shot 36 percent from beyond the arc in the game.
Christian downplayed the role of the officials following the game, as did Langford.
Langford acknowledged that the ending was a bit unsatisfying, but said he was proud of the way he and his teammates played.
“I would’ve liked to win, but I felt the guys really went out there and played for me,” Langford said.
The team wraps up its regular-season slate Saturday in Salt Lake City against the Mountain West-leading University of Utah Utes.