QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team dropped a 76-71 decision to Wentworth Institute of Technology Saturday afternoon at the Lahue Physical Education Center as its late-game rally came up short.
The loss pushes the Lions to 13-5 on the season and 7-4 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Leopards pulled even with Eastern Nazarene and Gordon at 7-4 in the league standings with the victory while rising to 11-7 on the year.
Senior Mike McCoy (Altamonte Springs, Fla.) netted a team-high 20 points on 8-of-12 shooting, including 3-of-5 from long distance. McCoy also added three rebounds, three assists and a steal on the day. Rookie Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) dished out three assists and finished with 17 points after collecting 15 in the second frame.
Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) and Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) each chipped in with eight points off the bench. Ezeigbo also recorded a side-best five rebounds in the los. Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) drained a pair of treys on the day to finish with six points while also leading the hosts with four helpers.
Wentworth's Colin Johnson paced all scorers with 21 points while Derek Mayo contributed with 18 points and seven boards.
The visitors scored the game's opening eight points to hold an 8-0 lead after 2:47 had elapsed.
Wentworth increased its advantage to 10, 21-11, with 8:50 remaining in the half as Nico Donato sank his only three-pointer of the day.
The Leopards sported a 34-23 edge at the halftime break.
McCoy led all players at intermission with 13 first-half points on 5-of-7 shooting from the floor. Ezeigbo added four points while Owens, Lynch and Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.) all scored two points.
Eastern Nazarene chopped the deficit to six with 7:34 left to play as it used an 8-0 run to pull the score to 55-49.
The Lions trimmed Wentworth's lead to three points with 4:26 on the clock, 59-56, as McCoy nailed a trey. Owens followed with a pair of free throws to slice the gap to just one, 59-58.
The Leopards responded with a three-pointer by Dailon Wilson from the left corner to extend their lead to four, 62-58, with 3:17 left to play.
McCoy found Lynch under the hoop for a reverse lay-up on the home team's ensuing possession to draw to within two, 62-60, with 2:42 on the clock.
Wentworth tacked on four-consecutive points to hold a six-point edge with 1:37 remaining.
Owens drained a trey with 1:20 left on the clock to narrow the margin to 66-63. The rookie sank a jumper with under minute remaining after the Leopards connected on a lay-in to draw the Lions to within three, 68-65.
Following a three-pointer by Justin Wagner from the corner with 27 seconds on the clock, Wentworth converted a pair of free throws to widen the lead to five, 73-68. Owens responded with a lay-in to cut the deficit to three, 73-70, with 13 ticks left to play.
The Leopards sank three free throws in the final 12 seconds to secure the win.
Eastern Nazarene connected on 65.4% of its field goal attempts in the second half to conclude the contest with a field-goal percentage of 55.1%. The Lions also sank 42.9% of their shots from behind the arc.
Wentworth finished the game with a field-goal percentage of 52.8%, including 6-of-11 from three-point distance.
Up next, the Lions will look halt a two-game skid as they welcome Nichols to the Lahue Physical Education Center January 29.