QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene men's basketball team suffered an 88-84 setback to league-leading Nichols Tuesday evening in the final home contest of the regular season at the Lahue Physical Education Center.
The Lions' eight-game winning-streak comes to a halt as they slip to 18-5 on the year and 12-5 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference with the result. The Bison improve to 19-5 overall and 15-2 in conference play to claim the regular-season title.
Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) paced all scorers with 33 points on 11-of-21 shooting from the field while adding a pair of assists. Lequan Gomes (Fairfield, Calif.) finished with his first career double-double, pouring in 11 points and grabbing 10 boards. Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) also posted his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 10 rebounds. Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) netted 13 points and picked up four steals.
Nichols' senior Ryan Sheehan netted his 2,000th career point in the second half and finished with a team-best 26 points.
Nichols started the game on a 7-0 run three minutes after the opening tip.
Eastern Nazarene trimmed the deficit to three with 6:09 remaining, 24-21, as Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) drained a trey.
The Bison reestablished an eight-point edge with 3:21 left to play on a three-pointer by Sheehan, 37-29. Nichols netted the final five points of the first frame to carry a 44-33 advantage into the halftime intermission.
The home side connected on 32.4% of its field goals through the first 20 minutes of the game, including 28.4% from beyond the arc. The visitors shot 51.6% from the floor and 60% from long range in the opening frame.
Gomes and Justin Wagner each tallied eight points in the first half to lead the Lions. Owens and Jeremy Wagner each chipped in with six points in the opening 20 minutes.
The Bison stretched their lead to 17 points after six consecutive points to open the second stanza, 50-33.
Eastern Nazarene pulled to within eight with 14:23 left to play as Hard sank a triple, 59-51.
Nichols reclaimed a double-digit lead with eight minutes to go on a jumper by Irving Eggleston, 78-64.
The Lions clawed back with 11 unanswered points to cut the margin to two as Justin Wagner drilled a three-pointer with 2:17 left to play, 80-78.
Eastern Nazarene leveled the score at 82-82 with 1:26 on the clock as Christian Lynch dished the ball to Gomes for a fast-break lay-in.
The Bison responded with a trey by Gustave Koumare from the right corner to go up 85-82 with less than a minute remaining.
After Matt Langadas sank the first of two free throws to push Nichols' edge to four, Owens banked in a lay-up with 12 seconds to play to cut the score to 86-84.
Sam Horning converted a pair of shots from the charity stripe to secure the Bison's fourth straight win.
The Lions finished the game with a field-goal percentage of 41.2% after shooting 50% from the floor in the second half. The hosts drained 11 three-pointers on 35 attempts on the night. The Bison connected on 52.6% of their shots in the contest, including 47.8% from outside the arc.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene closes out the 2013-14 regular season on the road at Gordon February 22.