BEVERLY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team prevailed 72-58 over Endicott Saturday afternoon on the road in the final regular-season tilt. The win lifts the Lions to 17-8 overall and 11-7 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Gulls sink to 9-16 on the season and 4-14 in league contests with the loss.
Eastern Nazarene finished the 2012-13 regular season tied for third in the conference standings with Wentworth and reached the postseason for the first time since 2003-04. The Lions earned the #4 seed in the playoffs due to Wentworth holding the head-to-head tiebreaker.
Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) paced the Lions offensively with 16 points, eight rebounds and four blocks. Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) nearly posted a triple-double on the day as he finished with 14 points, 10 assists, eight rebounds and four steals. Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) contributed 10 points off the bench.
Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) poured in nine points while John Cramer (Corning, N.Y.) tallied seven points and collected four boards. Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Dylan Saenz (Port Lavaca, Texas) each chipped in with six points on the afternoon.
The two teams battled closely in the first half as neither team could stretch a lead to more than four points.
Eastern Nazarene extended its advantage to six points with 5:49 remaining in the half as Ezeigbo banked in a lay-up, 24-18.
Endicott trimmed the deficit to one with 5:05 on the clock as Lance Green score a lay-up, 24-23.
The Lions responded with a dunk by Ezeigbo and a three-point play by Hard to seize a 30-23 edge with 3:57 left to play.
Jeremy Wagner knocked down three free throws with 1:27 remaining in the half to push the visitors' lead to nine, 37-28.
Eastern Nazarene carried the 37-28 advantage into the halftime break.
Ezeigbo led the away team at intermission with 12 points, six boards and three blocks. Lynch contributed six points off the bench and Hard added five. Owens and Saenz each scored four points while Jeremy Wagner and John Cramer tallied three in the opening 20 minutes of play.
The Lions shot 36.8% from the floor in the first frame and just 1-for-8 from three-point range. The Gulls connected on 30.3% of their field-goal attempts in the half, including 41.7% from long distance.
Eastern Nazarene netted the first four points of the second period to go up by 13, 41-28, with 18:02 remaining.
A 7-0 run by the Lions widened the gap to 17 points with 10:50 left to play, 56-39.
A triple by Jeremy Wagner with 6:17 on the clock capped a 12-point clip and pushed the visitors' advantage to 27, 68-41.
The Gulls closed out the contest with 12 consecutive points to cut the deficit to 14, 72-58.
Eastern Nazarene shot 44.6% from the field on the day and 27.3% from three-point land. Endicott was drained 35.0% of its shot attempts in the game and 29.4% from behind the arc.
After claiming the #4 seed in the upcoming Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament, Eastern Nazarene will host its first home playoff contest since the2000-01 season as it welcomes fifth-seeded Salve Regina to the Lahue Physical Education Center February 19.