QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene College women's basketball team stunned Mitchell 85-69 Wednesday afternoon at the Lahue Physical Education Center to lock up a home playoff game.
The Lions climb to 16-7 on the year and 11-5 in the New England Collegiate Conference with the key victory. The Mariners move to 15-9 overall with the loss and 14-3 in league action to slip to second place in the conference standings.
Courtney Barba (Pismo Beach, Calif.) poured in a season-best 21 points and collected seven rebounds. Tia Torio (Manteca, Calif.) posted 13 points, nine boards, and seven assists on the day. Alyssa Cosio (Santa Barbara, Calif.) contributed with 12 points off the bench while Kyra Fleharty (Lewistown, Mont.) finished with 11 points and eight rebounds.
The visitors snagged a quick four-point lead before Fleharty splashed a trey and tossed in a layup to give the home side a 5-4 edge with 7:48 left to play in the first frame.
Eastern Nazarene strung together a 7-0 run to claim a 13-8 advantage with 4:51 remaining in the opening quarter.
Mitchell responded with 10 straight points to jump ahead 18-13 with 2:27 to go in the first.
Seniesha Sekaquaptewa (Second Mesa, Ariz.) banked in a reverse layup to cut the Lions' deficit to 20-19 just before the conclusion of the first period.
The Mariners widened the gap to 23-19 as Marissa Sweeney drained a three-pointer to open the second quarter.
The hosts capped off the second frame with 11 consecutive points to hold an eight-point lead at the halftime intermission, 45-37, after outscoring the guests 26-17 in the quarter.
Eastern Nazarene shot 47.2% from the floor and 35.7% from beyond the arc in the first half. Mitchell posted a field-goal percentage of 44.1% at the break to go with 2-for-8 shooting from three-point range.
Barba and Cosio each tallied nine points in the opening two quarters to lead the Lions while Fleharty added seven points.
The home team seized its first double-digit lead of the game as Barba nailed back-to-back treys on the opening two possessions of the second half, 48-37.
Eastern Nazarene extended its advantage to 16 points with under a minute remaining in the third quarter, 68-52, on a basket by Emma Farrow (Blanchester, Ohio).
The Lions outscored the Mariners 24-20 in the third to sport a 69-57 margin heading into the final frame.
Mitchell pulled to within 10 after Amina Wiley tossed in a layup early in the fourth quarter, 69-59.
Eastern Nazarene stretched the gap to 19 with 3:42 left to play as Cosio capped off a 9-0 run with a three-ball, 80-61.
The hosts maintained a double-figure advantage down the stretch to secure the important conference win and halt the Mariners' winning-streak at five games.
The Lions concluded the contest with a field-goal percentage of 46.5% to go with 34.6% shooting from behind the arc. The Mariners shot 38.5% from the floor and 41.7% from long distance on the day.
Wiley paced Mitchell with a double-double, finishing with 19 points and 11 rebounds. Jessica Lohneiss netted 18 points off the bench for the Mariners while Kelsey Hernandez added 10 points.
Up next, Eastern Nazarene treks to Bay Path February 14 in the final regular-season road game.