QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team triumphed 84-75 over Mitchell in an exhilarating contest Wednesday evening at the Lahue Physical Education Center.
The Lions climb to 11-8 on the year with their seventh-straight win and remain unbeaten in New England Collegiate Conference competition at 6-0 on the season. The Mariners sink to 7-12 overall and 4-2 in league play with the outcome.
Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) poured in a game-high 21 points. Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) racked up 18 points, five rebounds, four assists, and three steals on the night. David Lopez (Miami, Fla.) notched 12 points and a team-best eight boards off the bench. Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) finished with 12 points while Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) contributed with nine points and Ricky Shearman (Acworth, Ga.) registered six points and eight assists.
The hosts got off to a strong start to the contest, establishing an early eight-point edge with 15:36 remaining in the opening half after connecting on five of their first eight field-goal attempts.
The visitors knotted the score on a trey by Connel Henderson before seizing their first lead of the game with 11:12 to go in the first frame on a layup by Brendan Miller, 18-16.
The two sides combined for nine ties and four lead-changes in the final 10 minutes of the first half.
After Mitchell grabbed a three-point lead, Eastern Nazarene answered with a bucket and free throw by Waldroop in the final minute of the half to send the two teams into the halftime intermission deadlocked at 37-37.
Eastern Nazarene shot 50% from the floor and 45.5% from beyond the arc in the first half. Mitchell compiled a field-goal percentage of 53.1% in the opening frame to go with 37.5% shooting from three-point territory.
Waldroop paced the Lions with 10 points and four rebounds at the midway point of the contest while Lopez tallied eight points and four boards off the bench.
The visitors claimed an eight-point advantage with 15:24 left to play on back-to-back three-pointers by Matt Finke, 54-46.
The hosts responded with a 15-4 run to jump ahead by three points, 61-58, with 11:34 on the clock.
Eastern Nazarene widened the gap to 67-62 as Lopez completed a three-point play from the charity stripe with 8:52 remaining.
Mitchell battled back to level the game at 68-68 with 5:44 to go on a put-back layup by Hasani Williams.
The Lions regained a five-point advantage as Crandell tossed in a layup with 2:19 left to play, 75-70.
With less than a minute remaining in regulation, Andrew Mitchell (Campobello, S.C.) drew a clutch offensive charge to lift Eastern Nazarene into the double-bonus. Cheney converted the first of two free throw attempts to push the hosts' lead to 78-73 before the Mariners' Leonard Williams banked in a layup to cut the deficit to 78-75.
On the Lions' ensuing possession coming out of a timeout, Shearman launched a one-handed pass down the center of the court to a wide-open Crandell for a fast-break jam. Waldroop stole the visitors' subsequent inbounds pass before drilling a pair of free throws. Eastern Nazarene secured its seventh-straight win as Cheney canned two free throws to cap off a 6-0 run spanning the final 26 seconds of the contest.
The Lions finished with a field-goal percentage of 53.8% to go with 10-for-20 shooting from the perimeter on the evening. The Mariners shot 53.1% from the floor and 35% from behind the arc in the game.
Finke paced Mitchell with 19 points and four assists. Hasani Williams netted 18 points and six boards while Jalen Benson recorded 12 points and nine rebounds for the visitors.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene hits the road to face Elms February 1.