MILTON, Mass.- Despite a furious comeback in the second half, the fourth-seeded Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team was edged by top-seeded Curry, 82-76, in the semifinals of the Commonwealth Coast Conference Tournament Thursday evening on the road.
The Lions finish the season at 18-9 overall while the Colonels improve to 20-7 on the year and advance to face second-seeded Gordon in the title game Saturday.
Freshman Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.), the CCC Rookie of the Year, paced the visitors with 23 points and five steals on the night. Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) recorded a double-double with 14 points and 11 rebounds. Senior Chima Ezeigbo (Roanoke, Va.) netted 12 points and grabbed four boards in the game. Max Barbosa (Dorchester, Mass.) finished with 10 points and four rebounds while Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) chipped in with eight points and five boards.
Curry was led by Antonio Jones with 22 points while Sedale Jones, the CCC Player of the Year, scored 21 points before fouling out.
John Cramer (Corning, N.Y.) opened Eastern Nazarene's scoring with a jumper 2:54 into contest and Justin Wagner followed with a trey to give the Lions a 5-3 lead early on.
Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) netted his lone bucket of the game with 13:38 remaining in the half to push Eastern Nazarene's edge to four, 9-5.
The Colonels responded with 11 straight points to claim a 16-9 lead with 8:58 to go in the half as Sedale Jones converted a pair of free throws.
Sedale Jones knocked down a three-pointer with 4:15 left in the first frame to stretch the hosts' advantage to 35-16.
Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.) tallied his only two points of the night with 3:41 remaining to cut the deficit to 35-18.
Curry closed out the half on a 10-0 run to hold a 45-18 lead at halftime.
Owens and Justin Wagner each notched a team-best three points in the first half while six players all contributed with two.
Eastern Nazarene shot just 24.1% from the floor in the opening 20 minutes of action and connected on 2-of-14 from beyond the arc. The Colonels sported a field-goal percentage of 47.1% to go with 54.5% shooting from three-point range in the first period.
The home team opened the second stanza with four consecutive points to extend the gap to 31, 49-18.
The Lions posted a 12-0 run to trim the deficit to 51-31 with 16:02 left to play.
Eastern Nazarene netted 11 straight points to cut the lead to 10 with 2:47 on the clock as Barbosa nailed a three, 73-63.
With 2:11 left to play, the visitors sank four free throws and held onto possession of the ball due to a technical foul assessed to the Colonels.
Following a made free throw by Curry, Barbosa banked in a lay-up with 1:08 to go. The senior added a free throw with 40 seconds left to play and Lynch sank a free throw with 38 seconds remaining to slice the deficit to 76-72.
Lambros Papalambros knocked down a pair of shots from the charity stripe to restore the Colonels' lead to six.
Eastern Nazarene bounced back with a lay-in by Owens with 22 ticks left on the clock to shrink the margin to 78-74.
After the hosts tacked on a free throw, Owens tossed in another lay-up with 13 seconds to pull the visitors to within three, 79-76.
Curry sank three free throws down the stretch to hang on for the victory. The Colonels' final 10 points in the last 5:07 of the contest came from the charity stripe.
The Lions capped off the game with a field-goal percentage of 33.3% after shooting 38.5% from the floor and hitting six treys in the second half. Eastern Nazarene racked up a season-high 58 points in the second frame Thursday.