NEWPORT, R.I.- Fueled by a strong second-half performance, the Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team defeated Salve Regina 79-69 Tuesday evening.
The Lions improve to 14-6 overall and 8-5 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference with the win. The Seahawks fall to 8-12 overall and 5-8 in league play with the result.
Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) poured in 21 points and added five boards and three assists. Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, Calif.) turned in a double-double with 19 points and 13 rebounds. Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) finished with 10 points while Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) tallied nine points.
Layups by Eric Lynch and Gomes gave the visitors a quick five-point lead with 14 minutes left to play, 11-6.
With 11:29 on the clock, Eastern Nazarene stretched its advantage to six points, 16-10, as Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) found Gomes under the hoop for an uncontested layup with a no-look dime.
After Salve Regina cut the deficit to two, Anthony Petrilli (Woodland Hills, Calif.) splashed a trey from the left corner to restore the Lions' edge to five points, 19-14, at the midway point of the first half.
The Seahawks strung together eight consecutive points to seize a 22-19 lead with 6:20 to go in the half.
The two squads traded buckets in the final six minutes and a scoreless spell by both teams in the final 1:26 yielded a 33-33 tie ballgame at the halftime intermission. The Lions knotted the game as David Eddings (Endicott, N.Y.) sank the second of two free throws.
Eastern Nazarene sported a field-goal percentage of 36.1% at the half while connecting on 6-of-16 attempts from beyond the arc. Salve Regina shot 42.4% from the floor in the first frame and 25% from three-point range.
Gomes notched six points, seven rebounds and two assists in the opening period while Owens and Justin Wagner also chipped in with six points.
The Lions jumped ahead by four with 13 minutes remaining in the second half on a three-pointer by Owens, 52-48.
A fast-break layup by Christian Lynch with 9:28 to go in regulation expanded the guests' cushion to five points, 57-52.
The Seahawks pulled to within a point on a trey by Kevin Mannix with 8:07 on the clock, 59-58.
Eastern Nazarene increased the margin to nine, 68-59, with 4:34 left to play in the half as Eric Lynch powered up a lay-in after a slick dish by Owens.
After Salve Regina chalked up five unanswered points to trim the gap to four, the Lions countered with a three-pointer by Justin Wagner and a fast-break layup by Owens to reestablish a nine-point advantage, 73-64, with less than two minutes remaining.
The Seahawks' Bryce Boggs rolled in a layup with 1:43 to go before Justin Wagner setup Eric Lynch for a wide-open basket with a twisting bounce pass as the shot clock ticked down, pushing the lead to 75-66 with 1:08 on the clock.
The guests tacked on four free throws in the final minute of action to lock up their eighth league victory of the year.
The Lions posted a field-goal percentage of 44.8% on the night to go with 10-of-25 shooting from downtown. The Seahawks shot 42.4% from the floor in the contest and 28.6% from the perimeter.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene returns home to battle Wentworth on Senior Day February 6. The Lions will recognize the program's five seniors prior to tip-off.