NEW LONDON, Conn.- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team suffered a 73-58 setback at Mitchell Saturday afternoon in the final regular-season contest.
The Lions progress to 13-12 on the year and end the regular season with an 8-4 mark in the New England Collegiate Conference with the result. The Mariners improve to 11-14 overall and 8-4 in league play with the win. By way of a series tie-breakers, Eastern Nazarene received the No. 3 seed in the upcoming NECC Tournament while Mitchell earns the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye.
Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) scored a team-high 18 points while adding four assists, three boards, and two steals. Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) netted 12 points and grabbed a team-best eight rebounds. Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) finished with 11 points while Christian Garcia (Miami, Fla.) registered nine points and seven boards off the bench.
After a back-and-forth start to the game, the visitors seized a five-point edge with 14:27 left to play on a basket by Crandell.
Eastern Nazarene widened the gap to 17-10 as Waldroop came up with a steal-and-score layup with 11:06 remaining in the first half.
The home team strung together a 12-0 run to claim a 28-19 advantage with 5:59 on the clock in the opening stanza.
The Lions recaptured the lead with 1:39 to go in the first frame as Waldroop splashed a trey, 30-29.
Mitchell closed out the half with a layup and two free throws to cling to a 33-30 halftime lead.
The two squads traded three-pointers to start the second stanza before the Mariners grabbed a 44-36 advantage with 16:08 left to play on a jumper by Leonard Williams.
The guests cut the deficit to 44-43 as Crandell knocked down a jump shot with 12:21 on the clock.
The hosts pushed the margin to 50-43 on a free throw by Leonard Williams with 10:13 remaining in regulation.
Eastern Nazarene leveled the contest at 50-50 as Garcia completed a three-point play from the charity stripe with 8:24 to go.
The Mariners responded with an 11-0 run to vault ahead a 61-50 with 5:13 left to play.
Mitchell capped off the game with a 12-8 edge in scoring to lock up the pivotal conference win.
The Lions concluded the contest with a field-goal percentage of 39.3% while draining 9-of-28 from behind the arc. The Mariners shot 45.8% from the floor and 42.9% from the perimeter on the afternoon.
Leonard Williams led all scorers with 23 points off the bench for the home side while Hasani Williams added 11 points and 13 rebounds.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene will host an NECC Tournament first round playoff game February 25.