NEWPORT, R.I.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team absorbed a 67-63 loss at Salve Regina Thursday evening at the Rodgers Recreation Center. The loss drops the Lions to 14-6 overall and 8-5 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Seahawks rise to 11-9 on the season and 7-6 in league contests.
Senior Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) registered a double-double with a team-high 21 points and 12 rebounds on the night. Rookie Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) poured in 18 points and grabbed four boards. Freshman Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga. ) chipped in with seven points while senior Mike McCoy (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) contributed six points.
The first period was closely contested as Salve Regina pushed its lead to five, 13-8, with consecutive baskets.
Eastern Nazarene leveled the game at 15-15 on a lay-in by Lynch with 8:38 remaining.
The Seahawks captured a four-point edge with 3:44 left to play as William Smiley bounced in a lay-in.
The Lions outscored the home side 6-2 in the final 2:30 as Owens sank a pair of layups and Aaron Johnson (Roslindale, Mass.) nailed a jumper.
After 20 minutes of basketball, the two teams were all squared up at 29-29. Owens tossed in a lay-up in the waning seconds of the first half to draw the visitors even.
Owens scored a team-high 12 first-half points on 6-of-8 shooting from the field. Ezeigbo, Johnson and Lynch all added four points for the Lions. Ezeigbo grabbed six boards in the first period to lead Eastern Nazarene on the glass.
Collectively, the Lions shot 43% from the floor while the Seahawks connected on 41% of their field-goal chances in the half.
Salve Regina opened the second frame with five unanswered points to claim a 34-29 lead after 1:18 had elapsed.
Eastern Nazarene clawed back to knot the score at 40-40 with 14:36 left to play on a dunk by Ezeigbo.
The Lions grabbed their first lead of the second half with 13:05 remaining, 45-42, as Max Barbosa (Dorchester, Mass.) hit his only three-pointer of the game.
Ezeigbo completed a three-point play from the free throw line with 7:56 left to go to stretch the visitors' advantage to eight, 52-44.
The home team responded with a 12-2 run to tie the game at 56-56 with 4:39 left to play.
The two squads traded points and headed into the final two minutes of regulation knotted at 61-61.
Salve Regina's Patrick Dinneen drained back-to-back off-balance shots to push the Seahawks ahead by two, 65-63, with 49 seconds remaining.
The hosts secured the victory with a fast-break lay-in by Dinneen just before time expired.
The Lions capped off the game with a field-goal percentage of 44.3% and sank just two attempts from beyond the arc. Salve Regina shot 46.8% on the evening and 29.4% from three-point range.
Eastern Nazarene will remain on the road as it heads to Gordon for a crucial conference clash February 2.