QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat Mitchell 78-74 Saturday afternoon at the Lahue Physical Education Center.
With the key victory, the Lions climb to 10-9 on the year and move into second place in the league standings with a 7-3 mark. The Mariners sink to 12-7 overall and 7-4 in the New England Collegiate Conference with the result.
Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) poured in a season-high 28 points to lead the hosts. Ricky Shearman (Acworth, Ga.) notched 10 points and 10 assists on the day. Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) tallied 10 points and hauled in nine boards. Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) chipped in with 11 points off the bench.
The visitors started the contest with an early 6-0 spurt before the home team responded with five-straight points to cut the deficit to 6-5 with 16:12 left to play in the opening half.
Mitchell strung together a 12-0 run to widen the gap to 24-10 with 12:11 remaining in the first.
Eastern Nazarene pulled to within eight, 33-25, with 6:39 on the clock as Cheney banked in a layup.
The Mariners stretched their lead to 16 points, their largest margin of the game, as Matt Finke drained a trey with 3:44 to go in the first frame, 45-29.
Eastern Nazarene trailed Mitchell 47-37 after Patrick Michel (Fort Lauderdale, Fla.) tossed in a layup just before the buzzer.
The Lions posted a field-goal percentage of 50% at the midway point to go with 4-for-7 accuracy rate from behind the arc. The Mariners shot 71.4% from the floor in the first frame and 57.1% from three-point territory.
The hosts clawed back to level the contest at 53-53 as Cheney knocked down the front-end of two free throw attempts with 12:12 remaining in regulation.
Eastern Nazarene seized its first lead of the afternoon with 9:56 to go on a bucket and free throw by Rice, 58-55.
Mitchell knotted the score at 60-60 as Marvin Baker netted a layup with 7:32 on the clock.
The Lions regained a four-point edge with 5:43 left to play on a fast-break layup by Cheney, 66-62.
The Mariners utilized a 10-2 run to flip the four-point deficit to a 72-68 advantage with 2:14 remaining.
The home side responded with a trey by Rice followed by a basket by Levi Grady-White (Springfield, Mass.) to retake the lead, 73-72, heading into the final minute.
After the guests pulled even with 23 seconds to go, Eastern Nazarene went up 76-73 as Rice rolled in a reverse-layup and canned a free throw with six seconds on the clock.
Crandell sealed the victory for the Lions with a pair of free throws late in the contest.
The Lions shot 49.2% from the floor and 35% from three-point range on the day. The Mariners finished with a field-goal percentage of 59.2% to go with 38.5% from behind the arc.
Hasani Williams paced Mitchell with 24 points and 11 boards while Domenico Santiago netted 12.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene returns to the hardwood January 28 to host Southern Vermont.