QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team dropped a 71-70 decision to league frontrunner Nichols Tuesday evening at the Lahue Physical Education Center.
The Lions fall to 14-2 on the year and 7-2 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference. The Bison improve to 12-4 overall and remain unbeaten in conference play at 9-0.
Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) scored a team-high 18 points on the night. Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) netted 12 points while Corey Doran (Fairfield, Calif.) recorded his first double-double of the season with 10 points and 11 boards. Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.) finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
Nichols scored the first seven points of the game to claim a 7-0 lead after 1:40 of action.
Eastern Nazarene cut the deficit to 16-15 on a jumper by Owens before grabbing its first lead of the evening with 10:10 on the clock as Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) converted a pair of shots from the charity stripe, 19-18.
The Bison responded with six consecutive points to regain a five-point edge, 24-19, with 8:16 left to play.
The Lions narrowed the margin to one as Owens found Jeremy Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) cutting to the hoop for a layup, 31-30, with 3:18 to go in the half.
The guests capped off the first period on an 11-0 run to sport a 42-30 advantage at the midway point.
Owens paced the hosts with seven points at halftime while Doran added six points and Christian Lynch chipped in with five.
Eastern Nazarene connected on 42.3% of its field-goal attempts through 20 minutes of play and 33.3% of its attempts from behind the arc. Nichols shot 51.5% in the opening frame while sinking six treys on 15 efforts.
The Lions chalked up nine straight points to trim the deficit to one point with 7:45 on the clock, 58-57, capped off by a three-pointer from Jeremy Wagner.
Eastern Nazarene seized its first lead of the second half with 6:15 left to play as Justin Wagner drilled a trey, 60-59.
Nichols responded with five consecutive points to reclaim a 64-60 advantage with 5:30 to go.
The Bison extended their lead to six points as Christian Horton sank the first of two free throws with 3:04 remaining.
After the two squads traded baskets, Jarman banked in a layup with 2:31 on the clock to pull the home side to within four, 71-67.
The Lions drew an offensive charge to keep the score at 71-67 with 1:27 to go before Justin Wagner nailed a step-back triple after pump-faking to get his defender airborne, shrinking the margin to 71-70 with less than a minute left to play.
Nichols missed a layup on the ensuing possession and Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) hauled in the key rebound and Eastern Nazarene held the ball for the final possession. Justin Wagner's off-balance attempt from beyond the arc at the buzzer came up just short as the Bison escaped with their seventh win in a row.
Gustave Koumare led Nichols with 17 pionts while Horton added 15 points and five assists.
The Lions finished with a shooting percentage of 44.8% from the field and connected on 42.1% of their long-range attempts. The Bison shot 45.2% from the floor and 27.6% from the perimeter on the night.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene will look to avenge its only other loss of the season as it visits Endicott January 24.