QUINCY, Mass.- The Eastern Nazarene College women's basketball team posted a key 80-75 win over Mitchell Saturday afternoon at the Lahue Physical Education Center.
The Lions improve to 18-3 on the year and remain tied atop the New England Collegiate Conference with an 11-1 mark. The Mariners sink to 13-9 overall and 8-3 in league competition with the result.
Stevie Orton (Gilford, N.H.) poured in a career-high 34 points and hauled in eight rebounds. Kyra Fleharty (Lewistown, Mont.) finished with 15 points and five boards. Jenn Burnham (West Valley City, Utah) contributed with seven points and six rebounds while Seniesha Sekaquaptewa (Second Mesa, Ariz.) added seven points off the bench.
The hosts grabbed an early 11-9 edge as Orton started the contest with 11-straight points for the squad.
Eastern Nazarene pushed its lead to 20-14 with 4:14 left to play in the opening period on a layup by Orton.
The Lions held a narrow 24-21 edge heading into the second quarter.
The home team strung together a 13-2 run to start the second frame to expand its advantage to 14 points, 37-23.
Eastern Nazarene widened the gap to 20 with five seconds remaining in the quarter as Orton converted a free throw. The visitors' Le'Sandra Turner drilled a half-court heave at the buzzer to cut the Lions' halftime lead to 53-36.
Eastern Nazarene shot 43.6% from the floor and 38.5% from the perimeter in the first two periods. Mitchell posted a field-goal percentage of 33.3% to go with 3-for-9 shooting from beyond the arc in the opening half.
Orton poured in 27 points to lead all players while Fleharty netted 11 points in the first half.
After the Lions stretched the margin to 22 points, the Mariners tallied 11 unanswered points to trim the deficit to 60-49 with 3:56 left to play in the third.
The hosts clung to a 63-54 edge at the start of the fourth quarter.
Eastern Nazarene regained a double-digit lead with 7:29 to go in regulation on a free throw by Fleharty, 67-57.
Mitchell battled back to seize a one-point edge with less than three minutes remaining as Amina Wiley completed a three-point play from the charity stripe, 70-69.
The Lions responded with a layup by Moira Phillips (Middlesex, N.J.) to capture a 71-70 lead before the Mariners answered with a trey by Leilani McClellan to jump ahead 73-71 with 1:52 on the clock.
The home team clawed back to claim a 74-73 advantage as Sekaquaptewa splashed a straight-away three-pointer with 1:09 left to play.
After Wiley gave the guests a 75-74 lead, Orton canned two free throws to lift Eastern Nazarene ahead 76-75. The Lions tacked on free throws by Sekaquaptewa and Orton in the final seconds of the game to seal the critical win.
Eastern Nazarene finished with a field-goal percentage of 39.1% while draining 8-of-23 three-point attempts. Mitchell shot 38.5% from the floor and 30% from long distance on the day.
Turner paced the Mariners with 25 points while Wiley registered a double-double with 14 points and 12 boards.
Looking ahead, Eastern Nazarene hosts New England College in a matchup of the top two teams in the NECC standings.