Men’s Basketball Drops Nail-Biter at Western New England

Men’s Basketball Drops Nail-Biter at Western New England

SPRINGFIELD, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team absorbed a 71-66 loss on the road at Western New England Thursday evening.

The Lions dip to 16-8 on the season and 10-7 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The victory lifts the Golden Bears to 8-16 overall and 6-11 in the league.

Despite the loss, Eastern Nazarene secured a home playoff game as a result of Salve Regina falling to Gordon. The Lions will host a CCC Tournament quarterfinal contest on February 19 at the Lahue Physical Education Center, their first home postseason game since the 2000-01 season.

Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) scored a team-high 16 points and added three assists for Eastern Nazarene. Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) finished with 12 points, four assists and three steals.

Senior Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 boards in the game. Senior Aaron Johnson (Roslindale, Mass.) chipped in with eight points while Max Barbosa (Dorchester, Mass.) poured in six points and dished out four helpers.

The two teams were knotted at 8-8 after the first five minutes of action.

Eastern Nazarene rattled off seven-straight points to claim a 15-8 lead with 12:44 remaining in the half.

Western New England roared back to take a 24-15 advantage after tallying 16 consecutive points. DeWayne Wynn capped off the stretch with a pair of free throws with 7:56 left to play.

The Lions cut the deficit to three with 4:52 remaining, 25-22, as Owens buried a three-pointer.

The hosts scored the final seven points of the half to hold onto a 10-point edge at halftime, 32-22.

Owens paced the visitors with six first-half points while Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) registered five. Ezeigbo contributed with four points and three rebounds and Lynch posted three points and three assists.

Eastern Nazarene shot 25.8% from the floor in the first period and 27.3% from downtown. Western New England sported a field-goal percentage of 54.5% at the break.

The Lions trimmed the margin to one with 10:29 left to play, 46-45, as Lynch tossed in a layup. Owens fed Lynch on the visitors' ensuing possession for the go-ahead basket, 47-46, with 9:49 remaining. Owens followed with a lay-in to extend the lead to three, 49-46, with 8:55 on the clock to cap a 16-0 run.

A lay-up by Dennis Rinaldi with 4:24 on the clock pulled the Golden Bears even at 57-57. Damon Alston followed with a lay-in to give the home team a 59-57 edge with 4:07 left to play.

Ezeigbo answered with a jumper to level the game at 59-59 with 3:55 remaining.

Western New England seized a 63-62 lead with 2:12 to go and pushed the margin to three, 65-62, in the final minute.

Lynch hit the first of two free throws to narrow the gap to 65-63 with 37 seconds left to play.

The Golden Bears benefitted from six made buckets from the charity stripe by Alston in the waning seconds to preserve the win.

Eastern Nazarene finished with a field goal percentage of 40.0% after shooting 55.2% from the floor in the second stanza. The Lions drained 33.3% of their bids from downtown on the night. The hosts connected on 52.0% of their field-goal chances in the contest, including 23.1% from beyond the arc.

Up next, the Lions will wrap up the regular season February 16 at Endicott.

Women's Basketball Falls at Western New England, 67-50