LEICESTER, Mass.- Fueled by a 27-point performance by Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.), the Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team downed Becker 78-67 Thursday evening.
The Lions climb to 9-9 overall and 6-3 in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) with the victory. The Hawks flutter to 5-14 on the season and 4-6 in league games.
Along with his team-high 27 points, Crandell posted eight rebounds and a pair of assists while converting 8-of-9 from the charity stripe. Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) poured in 13 points and dished out three assists. Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) tallied 11 points while Andrew Mitchell (Campobello, S.C.) netted a season-best 10 points in his fifth start of the year.
The hosts opened the game with five straight points before the visitors answered with an 11-0 run to seize an 11-5 edge with 15:06 left to play in the first half.
Eastern Nazarene extended the margin to 13-7 with 13 minutes to go in the opening period as Cheney completed a three-point play with a free throw.
Becker cut the deficit to three with 8:54 remaining in the first stanza on a trey by Kareem Davis, 23-20.
The Lions regained a seven-point edge, 35-28, as Crandell banked in a layup with 2:39 on the clock.
At halftime, the guests clung to a 37-33 lead.
Eastern Nazarene shot 43.3% from the floor and connected on 3-of-11 from beyond the arc in the first half. The Hawks compiled a field-goal percentage of 35.1% in the opening 20 minutes of play to go with 37.5% shooting from three-point distance.
The Lions stretched their advantage to 10 points with 16:19 remaining in the contest as Cheney tossed in a layup, 45-35.
The guests widened the gap to 56-39 on a layup by Levi Grady-White (Springfield, Mass.) with 12:05 to go in regulation.
The home team pulled to within nine on a pair of free throws by Davis with 7:39 left to play, 60-51.
Eastern Nazarene responded with five consecutive points to push its lead to 65-51 with less than seven minutes remaining.
The Lions kept Becker at bay for the final minutes of the contest to lock up their ninth victory of the year.
Eastern Nazarene finished with a field-goal percentage of 45.2% and drained 5-of-20 from long range on the night. Becker shot 37.9% from the floor and 40% from behind the arc in the contest.
Davis poured in a game-high 31 points to lead the hosts while Antonio White Jr. chipped in with 18 points.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene returns home to host Mitchell in a crucial conference showdown January 26.