BEVERLY, Mass.- Junior Jaylen Owens (Johns Creek, Ga.) tallied a game-high 32 points as the Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team dropped a 73-70 decision at Endicott Thursday evening.
The Lions slip to 17-3 on the year and 10-3 in the Commonwealth Coast Conference with the loss. The Gulls improve to 15-5 overall and 11-2 in league play with the win.
Owens' 32 points was just one point shy of tying his career-high of 33 while he also added three boards and two assists. Christian Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) and Eric Lynch (Alpharetta, Ga.) each poured in 11 points on the night. Alex Jarman (Portsmouth, R.I.) hauled in a career-best 18 rebounds in the contest.
The two teams traded control of the lead throughout the first stanza. Eastern Nazarene seized a four-point lead with 8:23 left to play in the half after Corey Doran (Fairfield, Calif.) banked in a layup after sinking two free throws on the previous possession.
Endicott responded with a 12-3 run to gain a 25-20 advantage with 6:14 remaining.
The Lions knotted the score at 27-27 with 3:46 on the clock on a jumper by Owens.
The Gulls chalked up the final two buckets of the first half to sport a 32-27 lead at the break.
Owens paced all scorers with 147 points in the first period. Doran added six points in the first half while Jarman grabbed nine rebounds.
Eastern Nazarene posted a field-goal percentage of 30.6% in the first half to go with 3-of-8 shooting from three-point range. Endicott connected on 45.2% of its shot attempts in the opening frame while draining 4-of-9 attempts from long distance.
After Kyle Smith (Clovis, Calif.) sank a trey to cut the deficit to 47-43, the hosts netted seven consecutive points to push their lead to 54-43 with 10:18 left to play.
The Lions battled back to capture a one-point edge on a three-pointer by Owens with 5:41 remaining, 57-56.
After Endicott regained a 67-64 lead with 1:30 on the clock as Max Motroni nailed a jumper, Eastern Nazarene responded with a trey by Justin Wagner (Oklahoma City, Okla.) to tie the score at 67-67.
The Gulls answered with another bucket by Motroni to take a 69-67 advantage into the final minute of regulation.
Kamahl Walker converted a pair of free throws to widen the home team's gap to 71-67 with 35 seconds on the clock.
On the visitors ensuing possession, Christian Lynch tossed in a layup and drew a foul to go to the charity stripe to finish off the and-one play to narrow the margin to 71-70 with 17 seconds left to play.
Endicott increased its lead to 73-70 as John Henault netted two free throws with 10 seconds to go.
Owens' last-second three-point bid to even the score was just off the mark as Endicott escaped with the critical win.
The Lions knocked down 38.4% of their shot attempts on the night, including 10-of-23 from behind the arc. The Gulls shot 49.1% from the floor and 44.4% from the perimeter.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene visits Wentworth for a pivotal conference clash February 7.