SPRINGFIELD, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team suffered a 79-76 setback at Western New England Saturday afternoon.
The loss drops the Lions to 10-2 on the year and 4-2 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Golden Bears earned their first league win to improve to 1-5 in conference games and 3-9 overall.
Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) paced the visitors with 13 points, finishing with four three-pointers. Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) registered 11 points and five assists in the contest. Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, Calif.) scored nine points and grabbed a team-high six rebounds. Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) each contributed nine points.
The home team netted the first nine points out of the chute, capped off by a lay-up by Ryan Mickiewicz 1:34 into the game.
Justin Wagner got the visitors on the board with a three-pointer to cut the deficit to 9-3 and spark a 7-0 run.
Eastern Nazarene leveled the score at 19-19 with 5:57 left in the half as Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.) gathered an offensive rebound and deposited a lay-up.
Western New England responded with 11 consecutive points to seize a 30-19 advantage with 3:21 remaining.
The Lions trailed the Golden Bears by eight at the midway point of the game, 32-24.
Dylan Saenz (Port Lavaca, Texas) registered a team-best five points and four rebounds in the opening 20 minutes of play while Gomes chipped in with four points.
The Lions shot 24.2% from the floor in the first stanza while being held to 2-for-8 shooting from three-point range. The Golden Bears connected on 44.8% of their field-goal attempts in the first half, including just one made trey on five efforts.
In the second half, Eastern Nazarene clawed back to slice the margin to three with 15:54 remaining as Brian Hard (Weymouth, Mass.) hit the first of two free throws, 36-33.
After Western New England pushed its lead to nine, 46-37, Zach Tonello (Bourne, Mass.) sank a three-pointer to pull the score to 46-40 with 13:32 on the clock.
The Lions narrowed the gap to 58-57 with 6:08 left to play as Owens and Justin Wagner buried back-to-back treys. Justin Wagner followed a Golden Bear basket with another three-pointer to even the contest at 60-60 with 5:24 to go.
Eastern Nazarene grabbed its first lead of the afternoon with 4:51 remaining as Owens converted a pair of free throws, 62-60.
The Golden Bears reclaimed the lead and increased their advantage to 74-64 with less than a minute left in regulation.
Jeremy Wagner drained a three with 19 seconds on the clock and Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) followed with a lay-up two seconds later to trim the deficit to 75-71.
After Western New England sank two of four free throw attempts to push the margin to 77-71, Gomes flushed a slam dunk to make it a four-point game with two seconds left to play.
Luis Agrait hit two shots from the charity stripe to restore the Golden Bears' edge to six.
Christian Lynch beat the buzzer with a three-pointer to pull the final score to 79-76.
The Lions posted a field-goal percentage of 34.2% in the game, including connecting on 11-of-28 from beyond the arc. The Golden Bears finished with a field-goal percentage of 56.0% while shooting 28.6% from downtown.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene hosts Salve Regina at the Lahue Physical Education Center January 15.