BEVERLY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team absorbed its first loss of the season Saturday afternoon, narrowly falling on the road at Endicott 78-77.
The Lions slip to 6-1 on the season and 1-1 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference with the result. The Gulls improve to 5-2 overall and 1-1 in league play with the victory.
Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) paced the visitors with 21 points and four assists on the afternoon. Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) contributed 15 points off the bench while Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) also came off the bench to notch 10 points and a team-best nine rebounds. Dylan Saenz (Port Lavaca, Texas) matched his career-high with eight points in the game.
The visitors opened the contest with a 7-2 lead after 3:09 of action.
Endicott battled back to seven consecutive points to grab a 9-7 edge with 14:12 remaining.
The Lions reclaimed a five-point advantage, 16-11, with 11:18 left to play in the half as Hard nailed a trey.
The Gulls seized a two-point edge with eight minutes to go in the opening period as Kamahl Walker knocked down a three-pointer, 21-19.
Eastern Nazarene cut the deficit to one point with four minutes remaining as Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, Calif.) tossed in an acrobatic lay-up, 32-31.
The Lions grabbed a 33-32 advantage on their next possession as Christian Lynch banked in a lay-up.
After Endicott captured a 36-35 lead, Gomes converted a free throw to even the score with 2:38 on the clock.
The hosts closed out the first half on a 7-2 run to carry a 43-38 lead into the halftime intermission.
Christian Lynch paced the Lions with 11 first-half points while Owens notched eight points and four assists in the opening period.
The visitors shot 33.3% from the field in the first frame and 41.2% from downtown. The hosts shot 51.5% from the field and 40.0% from three-point range in the opening stanza.
Eastern Nazarene claimed its first lead of the second half 4:27 into play after a put-back layup by Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.), 46-45.
The Gulls utilized a 10 point run to capture a 61-55 edge with 8:40 remaining.
The Lions poured in seven straight points to level the score at 73-73 with 3:11 left to play, capped off by a pair of free throws by Hard.
The home side reclaimed a three-point lead with 2:20 on the clock, 76-73, as Walker made a lay-in.
Eastern Nazarene tied the contest at 77-77 with 36 seconds left to play as Saenz banked in a lay-up.
Walker converted the front end of a 1-and-1 from the free throw stripe to give Endicott a 78-77 advantage with 25 seconds left in regulation.
The Lions nearly grabbed a one-point lead late in the contest but David Eddings (Endicott, N.Y.) had his lay-up bid bounce off the iron with just over five seconds remaining in regulation.
After the Gulls missed two free throw attempts, Eastern Nazarene had one final effort to net the go-ahead basket. Owens' long three-pointer fell just short of the rim as Endicott escaped with the one-point win.
Eastern Nazarene finished with a field-goal percentage of 33.3% while connecting on 12-of-34 three-point efforts. Endicott shot 50.0% from the floor in the game and 22.2% from beyond the arc.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene will host UMaine-Presque Isle in a non-conference contest January 2.