QUINCY, Mass.- The third-seeded Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team edged No. 6 seed Becker 74-70 in overtime Tuesday evening at the Lahue Physical Education Center in the NECC Tournament First Round.
The Lions improve to 14-12 on the year with the victory and advance to the NECC Tournament semifinals to play at second-seeded Mitchel Thursday, February 27. The Hawks finish the season with an 11-15 overall record with the setback.
Noah Cheney (Bend, Ore.) poured in a game-best 19 points and hauled in six boards. Josh Rice (Hanson, Mass.) finished with 15 points while Jacob Waldroop (Newland, N.C.) netted 12 points off the bench. Ricky Shearman (Acworth, Ga.) registered 12 points, five assists, and five rebounds on the night. Garrett Crandell (Bristol, Tenn.) scored nine points as he came off the bench in the second half.
After a back-and-forth start to the contest, which saw five ties in the first seven minutes, the visitors chalked up three-straight buckets to seize a 16-12 edge with 11:30 left to play in the first half.
The hosts snagged a two-point advantage with 10:46 remaining in the opening period as Will Zarges (Quincy, Mass.) splashed a trey from the left wing before Cheney completed a three-point play with a free throw, 18-16.
Eastern Nazarene carried a five-point advantage into the halftime break, 33-28, after shooting 43.3% from the floor and 33.3% from beyond the arc in the first half. Becker posted a field-goal percentage of 44% in the opening frame while connecting on 2-of-8 from three-point range.
Cheney scored a game-high 12 points in the first half while Waldroop netted eight points off the bench and Shearman added six points with four boards.
The Lions widened the gap to double-digits with 12:18 on the clock in the second stanza on a layup by David Lopez (Miami, Fla.), 49-39.
The Hawks cut the deficit to 57-55 on a two-handed alley-oop by Jordan Rose-Wheatley with 4:12 remaining.
Becker leveled the game at 60-60 as Mekhi Chester tossed in a layup with 2:03 to go in regulation.
The home side claimed a 63-60 edge with 1:30 left to play as Crandell canned a clutch three-pointer.
After the Hawks knotted the score at 63-63, Jamir Carr gave the guests a narrow 64-63 lead with one free throw make with 14 seconds on the clock.
Eastern Nazarene pulled even with less than a second to go in regulation as Waldroop sank the second of two free throw attempts , sending the Lions to overtime for the first time since November 30, 2016.
In the extra frame, the two squads traded buckets before the hosts nabbed a 69-68 lead with under two minutes remaining as Shearman nailed two free throws. Eastern Nazarene stretched its advantage to 70-68 as Waldroop tacked on a make from the charity stripe with 42 seconds to go.
After Ozzy Traill III (Valley Stream, N.Y.) drew a clutch charge on the defensive end, the Lions secured the victory as Shearman and Waldroop each drained a pair of free throws in the final seconds.
Eastern Nazarene concluded the contest with a field-goal percentage of 43.1% to go with an 8-for-24 effort from the perimeter. Becker shot 45.9% from the floor on the night and 25% from behind the arc.
Mateus Ribeiro notched a double-double for the Hawks, finishing with 14 boards and 12 assists to go with nine points. Carr posted a team-high 15 points while Terrance Edwards registered 13 points off the bench and Chester chipped in with 12 points.
ABOUT THE NECC
The NECC began competition in the 2008-09 academic year and current member institutions compete across 15 sports. The NECC membership focuses on providing athletic competition among institutions that share similar academic aspirations and are committed to the importance of the total educational experience for students engaged in sports. Current members include Bay Path University, Becker College, Dean College, Eastern Nazarene College, Elms College, Lesley University, Mitchell College and New England College.
(Story courtesy of Eastern Nazarene Sports Information)