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Second-Half Slump Costs MBB at Eastern Nazarene

Second-Half Slump Costs MBB at Eastern Nazarene

QUINCY, Mass. -- The Eastern Nazarene College men's basketball team overcame a 16-point deficit to defeat Mitchell College, 78-74, Saturday afternoon at the Lahue Physical Education Center.

With the victory the Lions (10-9 overall) moved into second place in the league standings with a 7-3 mark. The Mariners (12-7 overall) dropped to 7-4 in the New England Collegiate Conference with the result.

Josh Rice poured in a season-high 28 points to lead the hosts. Ricky Shearman notched 10 points and 10 assists on the day while Garrett Crandell tallied 10 points and hauled in nine boards. Noah Cheney chipped in with 11 points off the bench.

Hasani Williams netted 24 points on 10-for-13 shooting and cemented the double-double with a game-high 11 rebounds. Domenico Santiago battled foul trouble to finish with 12 points, five boards and three steals while Steffen Brunson tacked on 11 points and six assists. 

Santiago also passed a career milestone on the day, grabbing the 1,000th rebound of his collegiate career. The 6-5 center becomes just the second Mitchell player to accomplish the feat, joining Joshua Ford '15.

The visitors started the contest with an early 6-0 spurt before the home team responded with five-straight points to cut the deficit to 6-5 with 16:12 left to play in the opening half. Mitchell later strung together a 12-0 run to widen the gap to 24-10 with 12:11 remaining in the half.

The Mariners stretched the lead to 16 points--their largest of the game--as Matt Finke drained a trey with 3:44 left to make it 45-29. Eastern Nazarene trailed 47-37 after Patrick Michel tossed in a layup just before the halftime buzzer.

Mitchell shot a commanding 71 percent from the floor in the first half and 57 percent from three-point territory.

In the second half, the hosts clawed back to level the contest at 53-53 as Cheney knocked down the front-end of two free throw attempts with 12:12 remaining in regulation. Eastern Nazarene seized its first lead of the afternoon with 9:56 to go on a bucket and free throw by Rice (58-55).

Mitchell knotted the score at 60-60 as Marvin Baker netted a layup with 7:32 on the clock. The Lions regained a four-point edge with 5:43 left to play on a fast-break layup by Cheney (66-62).

The Mariners utilized a 10-2 run to flip the four-point deficit to a 72-68 advantage with 2:14 remaining. The home side responded with a trey by Rice, followed by a basket by Levi Grady-White, to retake the lead at 73-72 heading into the final minute.

After the guests pulled even with 23 seconds to go, Eastern Nazarene went up 76-73 as Rice rolled in a reverse-layup and canned a free throw with six seconds remaining on the clock. Crandell sealed the victory for the Lions with a pair of free throws late in the contest.

Mitchell will next host Connecticut College on Monday, January 28 at 6 p.m.