NORTON, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team collected a crucial 70-66 conference win over Dean Wednesday afternoon at Emerson Gymnasium on the campus of Wheaton College.
With the win, the Lions improve to 13-11 on the year and move into a three-way tie for second-place in the league standings with a 10-5 mark. The Bulldogs slip to 16-8 overall and 10-5 in the New England Collegiate Conference with the result.
Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) poured in 23 points and grabbed six boards. Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) finished with 16 points and two assists. Levi Grady-White (Springfield, Mass.) posted a double-double with 13 points and a team-high 10 rebounds.
Dean netted the first six points of the contest to claim an early 6-0 edge.
Eastern Nazarene clawed back to grab its first lead of the game, 10-9, with 13:27 left to play in the first half on a layup by Cheney.
The Bulldogs regained a six-point advantage, 22-16, with 7:58 to go in the opening frame as Sean Odum connected on a three-pointer.
The Lions leveled the score at 29-29 on a trey by Crandell before a put-back layup by Grady-White gave the visitors a 31-29 edge with 1:37 remaining in the half.
Eastern Nazarene clung to a slim 34-32 lead heading into the halftime break.
The Lions shot 45.2% from the floor and splashed 4-of-7 three-point attempts in the first frame. The Bulldogs boasted a field-goal percentage of 36.7% at the intermission to go with 6-for-14 shooting from beyond the arc.
A back-and-forth start to the second stanza saw the two teams deadlocked at 38-38 five minutes into the half.
Dean constructed a four-point margin with 13:27 to go in regulation as Randolf Thurman drained a three-pointer, 45-41.
Eastern Nazarene pulled even at 48-48 as Crandell canned a three-ball with 10:11 on the clock.
The Lions reclaimed the lead with 8:53 left to play on a bucket by Cheney, 50-48.
The Bulldogs battled back to snag a 57-56 edge with 3:55 remaining before Eastern Nazarene answered with a basket by Grady-White to take a 58-57 lead with 3:33 to go.
The Lions pushed their advantage to 60-57 with 2:27 on the clock as Grady-White converted a pair from the charity stripe.
Eastern Nazarene locked up the key victory by nailing 7-of-8 attempts from the free throw line down the stretch.
The Lions finished with a field-goal percentage of 38.3% on the day to go with 44.4% shooting from three-point range. The Bulldogs shot 40% from the floor and 35% from behind the arc in the contest.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene returns home to wrap up the regular season February 16 against Elms on Senior Day.