BENNINGTON, Vt.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team suffered a tight 79-76 setback at Southern Vermont Tuesday evening in the first-ever meeting between the two teams.
The Lions slip to 2-5 overall and 1-1 in the New England Collegiate Conference with the loss. The Mountaineers climb to 5-2 on the year and 1-0 in league action with the win.
Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) scored 16 points to lead the visitors. Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) finished with 12 points while Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) added 11 points. David Lopez (Miami, Fla.) registered 10 points and five rebounds. Ricky Shearman (Acworth, Ga.), Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.), and Levi Grady-White (Springfield, Mass.) all netted nine points on the night.
The home side grabbed an early double-digit lead, 12-2, less than three minutes into the game.
The guests battled back to cut the deficit to one, 23-22, with nine minutes remaining in the opening half on a three-pointer by Rice.
Eastern Nazarene leveled the contest at 33-33 as Grady-White tossed in a layup with 3:17 to go before knocking down a jumper to give the Lions their first lead of the night, 35-33, with 2:49 left to play in the frame.
The visitors pushed their advantage to 42-37 in the final minute of the stanza on a bucket by Crandell.
At the half, Eastern Nazarene clung to a narrow 42-40 edge after shooting 59.3% from the floor in the first frame and 56.3% from behind the arc. Southern Vermont posted a field-goal percentage of 57.1% in the opening half to go with 40% shooting from long distance.
After a back-and-forth start to the second half, the Lions stretched their lead to eight with eight minutes left to play in regulation as Grady-White completed a three-point play from the free throw stripe, 62-54.
The Mountaineers manufactured a 12-0 run spanning nearly five minutes late in the game to jump ahead 75-70 with 36 seconds remaining.
Eastern Nazarene snapped the cold spell with a layup by Shearman with 24 seconds to go to cut the deficit to 75-72.
After the hosts' Josh Borders converted two free throws, Lopez canned a three-pointer to pull the guests to within two with 12 seconds left, 77-75.
The Lions narrowed the gap to 78-76 as Crandell sank the first of two free throw attempts following a missed free throw by Southern Vermont.
The Mountaineers responded with a free throw by Frayer to regain a three-point edge with two seconds to play, 79-76.
Eastern Nazarene's final three-point effort was off the mark as Southern Vermont escaped with their first conference win of the season.
The Lions shot 52.1% from the floor on the evening and connected on 13-of-25 from three-point range. The Mountaineers concluded the contest with a field-goal percentage of 51.9% to go with 7-for-20 shooting from beyond the arc.
Andre Hodo paced Southern Vermont with 20 points and 12 rebounds while Kyle Depollar finished with 18 points.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene returns home to battle Curry December 6.