BOSTON, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team secured a thrilling 71-67 victory over Wentworth Thursday evening at Tansey Gymnasium.
The win catapults the Lions to 10-1 on the year and 4-1 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Leopards fall to 6-6 overall and 3-2 in league contests with the loss.
Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) finished with a team-best 17 points on the night while adding three boards, three assists and a pair of steals. Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) tallied 15 points and paced the visitors with three steals. Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) netted 13 points and dished out seven assists. Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, Calif.) contributed 14 points, five rebounds and two steals off the bench.
Eastern Nazarene jumped out to an 8-5 edge after 4:23 of action as Owens tossed in a lay-up.
Wentworth responded with an 11-2 run to claim a 16-10 advantage with 11:51 left to play in the half.
The Lions sliced the gap to three points late in the period, 29-26, as Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.) connected on a tip-in with less than two minutes remaining.
The Leopards closed out the first frame with a 5-1 stretch to sport a 34-27 lead at halftime.
Eric Lynch scored nine points in the first half to lead Eastern Nazarene. Jarman netted six points and hauled in five rebounds in the opening frame while Gomes also recorded six points.
The visitors shot 37.0% from the floor in the first stanza and were limited to 0-for-6 shooting from three-point distance. The Leopards connected on 57.7% of their first-half field-goal attempts, including 28.6% from behind the three-point line.
The Lions began the second half with eight unanswered points to seize a 35-34 lead with 17:35 left to play.
Wentworth leveled the score at 44-44 with 10:54 on the clock as Cam Sennick banked in a lay-up. The Leopards added six straight points to claim a 50-44 advantage with 8:42 to play.
The visitors pulled to within two with 5:50 left in regulation, 54-52, as Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) completed a four-point play with a free throw after nailing a three-pointer from the left corner and drawing a foul.
Eastern Nazarene clawed back to regain a one-point edge with 4:33 remaining, 57-56, as Gomes deposited a lay-in.
Justin Wagner broke a 59-59 tie with 3:27 to play as he buried one of his three treys on the night from the right corner. The Lions extended their lead to five with 2:56 left to go, 64-59, after Owens gathered an offensive rebound and dropped in a lay-up.
The hosts responded with a lay-in and two free throws to cut the deficit to 64-63 with 2:18 on the clock.
Gomes and Owens each sank one free throw to push the gap to three points with under a minute left to play, 66-63.
Jherson Colon banked in a lay-up on Wentworth's ensuing possession to narrow the margin to 66-65 with 29 seconds remaining.
Justin Wagner drained a pair of shots from the charity stripe and Gomes netted one to increase the visitors' advantage to four with 16 seconds on the clock, 69-65.
Sennick converted two free throws to pull the Leopards to within two before Justin Wagner dropped in a pair from the charity stripe to close out the scoring and cap off Eastern Nazarene's 10th victory of the 2013-14 campaign.
The Lions concluded the game with a field-goal percentage of 41.0%, including 33.3% from beyond the arc. The Leopards shot a scorching 60.0% from the floor in the loss while being held to 27.3% shooting from long range.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene looks to capture its fifth-straight win January 11 as it travels to square off against Western New England.