QUINCY, Mass.- In a game that came down to the wire, two free throws and a clutch block by Ricky Shearman (Acworth, Ga.) lifted the Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team to a 76-75 victory over Elms Saturday afternoon at the Lahue Physical Education Center.
The Lions improve to 6-8 on the year and 2-0 in the New England Collegiate Conference (NECC) with the win. The Blazers dip to 5-9 overall and 1-1 in league competition with the result.
Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) poured in a game-high 23 points and added five boards. Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) posted his first double-double of the season, registering 18 points and 11 rebounds. Will Zarges (Quincy, Mass.) finished with a career-best 10 points off the bench. Shearman chipped in with nine assists and eight points.
The hosts chalked up the first five points of the contest before the visitors battled back to seize an 11-10 edge with 15:34 remaining in the first half.
Eastern Nazarene grabbed a six point advantage with 11:26 left to play in the opening frame on a put-back layup and free throw by Zarges.
The Lions widened the margin to 10 with 6:27 on the clock as Shearman tossed in a fast-break layup, 27-17.
The home side extended its lead to 16 on a three-pointer by Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) with less than one minute remaining in the half.
Eastern Nazarene touted a 40-27 advantage at the break after shooting 48.4% from the floor and 46.2% from three-point range in the opening stanza. Elms connected on 37.9% of its field-goal attempts in the first frame, including 2-of-9 from behind the arc.
Rice scored 12 points and grabbed five rebounds in the first half to lead all scorers. Crandell poured in 11 points while Zarges added 10 points off the bench.
The Lions pushed their lead to 50-31 with 16:35 to go in regulation as Rice splashed a trey.
The Blazers strung together a 13-0 run to cut the deficit to 61-59 with 6:17 left to play in the contest.
Eastern Nazarene captured a seven-point edge with 4:43 on the clock on a basket by Shearman and a three-pointer by Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.), 68-61.
Elms pulled even at 71-71 with 2:08 remaining on a bucket by Nikolas Brown before the home team responded with a three-pointer by Crandell to snag a 74-71 advantage with 1:48 to go.
The guests jumped ahead 75-74 with 20 seconds remaining as Tyler Barney drilled a three-pointer from the right corner.
The Lions clawed back to reclaim a one-point lead with 4.4 seconds on the clock as Shearman converted a pair of free throws.
On the final play of regulation, Shearman blocked Elms' last-second effort as Eastern Nazarene escaped with the one-point victory.
The Lions finished with a field-goal percentage of 43.8% while draining 11-of-27 from long distance. The Blazers shot 52.6% in the game, including 67.9% from the floor in the second half, while shooting 35.3% from beyond the three-point line.
David Lopez Jr. paced Elms with 19 points while Kewan Smoot netted 17 points and seven rebounds.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene heads to Dean for a midweek matchup January 15.