MILTON, Mass.- In a matchup featuring the top two squads in the Commonwealth Coast Conference standings, the Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team handed first-place Curry its first league-loss of the season Thursday evening at the Student Center Gymnasium. The Lions prevailed 85-72 to extend their winning-streak to a season-long five games while improving to 11-3 overall and 6-2 in the conference. The result pushes the Colonels to 10-5 on the year and 7-1 in league play.
Senior Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) tallied more than 20 points for the fourth-straight contest as he finished with 23 points while adding eight rebounds and three rejections. Rookie Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) poured in 19 points and grabbed six boards off the bench.
Freshman Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) netted 13 points and dished out six assists. Senior Aaron Johnson (Roslindale, Mass.) recorded 11 points and six rebounds while rookie Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) scored nine points one 3-of-4 shooting from long distance.
Eastern Nazarene raced out to a 12-4 lead as Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) nailed a pair of treys in the opening 3:04.
Curry knotted the score at 31-31 with 5:48 remaining in the first period as Matthew Russell banked in a layup. The Colonels took a 34-31 advantage on their ensuing possession as Sedale Jones converted a three-point play with a made free throw.
Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) found Lynch on a fast-break in the waning seconds of the opening half to narrow the deficit to one, 47-46, at halftime.
Ezeigbo led Eastern Nazarene with 12 points and five rebounds at intermission. Lynch chipped in with 10 points in the opening frame. Owens scored seven first-half points while Hard and Justin Wagner each added six.
The Lions kept to within striking distance of the home team throughout the second half.
Johnson sank a pair of free throws to give Eastern Nazarene its first lead of the second frame, 65-64, with 9:41 left to play.
Following Johnson's two free throws, the two sides traded buckets and the lead. The visitors captured a four-point advantage with 7:36 remaining in regulation as Ezeigbo buried a lay-up, 72-68.
With 3:11 showing on the clock, Johnson corralled a defensive rebound and sprinted down the court before pulling up from the right wing to knock down a trey to increase the Lions' lead to five, 75-70. The triple sparked a 13-2 run for Eastern Nazarene in the final minutes of play as it sealed the win.
Curry's final points of the contest came from the charity stripe with 2:54 left to go as Sedale Jones converted a pair.
The Lions scored 10 unanswered points to close out the game.
Eastern Nazarene shot a sizzling 52.4% from the field in the victory and 42.1% from three-point range. The Colonels finished the contest with a field-goal percentage of 40.3% while draining 5-of-12 chances from beyond the arc on the night.
Up next, the Lions will look to grab their sixth-straight win as they host Endicott January 19.