HENNIKER, N.H.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team suffered a 73-59 setback at league-leading New England College Wednesday evening.
The Lions slip to 11-10 overall and 8-4 in the New England Collegiate Conference with the loss. The Pilgrims improve to 18-3 on the season and tightens its grips on first place in the conference with an 11-1 mark.
Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) tallied a team-high 15 points in the game. Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) notched 11 points and seven rebounds. Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) finished with 11 points while Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) led the visitors' reserves with five points and five boards.
After falling behind early, the Lions battled back to level the score at 5-5 on a trey by Rice before a triple from Waldroop gave them their first lead of the night with 16 minutes remaining in the opening half.
Eastern Nazarene extended its advantage to 21-14 with 10:48 left to play in the first frame as Ricky Shearman (Acworth, Ga.) sank three free throws.
A three-ball by Waldroop with 6:06 to go in the half pushed the guests' lead to 28-18.
The home team cut the deficit to three with under a minute remaining in the opening stanza on a trey by Ricky Leonard, 36-33.
In his first action since December, David Lopez (Miami, Fla.) drained a pair from the charity stripe to stretch the Lions' margin to 38-33 just before the halftime horn.
Eastern Nazarene shot 46.4% from the floor and 54.5% from long distance in the first 20 minutes of play. New England College posted a field-goal percentage of 37.8% in the opening frame while being limited to just 25% from downtown.
New England College pulled even at 41-41 with 17:06 left to play on a free throw by Izaiah Winston-Brooks then reclaimed a one-point edge as Calvin Cheek converted 1-of-2 from the stripe with 16:39 to go.
The Pilgrims generated a 6-0 run to jump ahead 52-46 with 14 minutes on the clock.
The hosts widened the gap to double-digits with 11:11 remaining in regulation as Stephen Fama drilled a three-pointer, 58-47.
The guests narrowed the margin to 64-58 on a pair of free throws by Cheney with 2:29 left to play.
New England College concluded the contest with a 9-1 run to earn its seventh-straight victory.
The Lions finished with a field-goal percentage of 33.3% while connecting on 9-of-22 from beyond the arc on the night. The Pilgrims shot 40.3% from the floor and just 28.6% from three-point range in the contest.
Winston-Brooks paced the home side with 20 points while Cheek and Leonard both added 14 points.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene returns to the Lahue Physical Education Center February 2 to host Lesley.